Does TV Measurement Even Need A Standard?

AOL TVAs advertisers apply more data to their television buys, how will old measurement standards meet their needs?

The idea ignited a debate during a panel on the state of TV at AOL’s New York headquarters Tuesday.

“I don’t know if we need a standard currency,” said Dan Aversano, SVP of client and consumer insights at Turner Broadcasting. He argued that advertisers increasingly want to use different forms of measurement to account for their TV spend. Who is Turner, Aversano said, to tell someone like Procter & Gamble that it can’t measure against its own CRM data?

But Jamie Power, managing partner at GroupM’s MODI Media (an agency that builds addressable TV campaigns, buying relevant audiences and measuring return on ad spend), didn’t bite on the concept of a measurement free-for-all. “That seems crazy to me,” she said. “How do you scale without standards?”

Certainly TV measurement standard-bearer Nielsen is often maligned by advertisers, but Power noted there’s no other viable solution in the market.

 Aversano’s theory that a common measurement standard might be outmoded stemmed from his experiences at Turner, which offers more flexibility in terms of how advertisers can measure the efficacy of their campaigns.

The broadcaster has an in-house revenue and yield management system to power this ability, such that it has some clients using Nielsen, others using CRM data – and others using a veritable data mix. Logistically, though, Aversano admits, “It’s a bit of a nightmare.”

Another pain point for Turner is moving to the multitouch attribution and ROI guarantees that advertisers increasingly request. “We’re open to it,” Aversano said, “and we’re starting to get into it this year.” Its recent launch of a Data Cloud factored in additional data sets.

However, numerous factors go into attribution – the content of the creative, the context of the message, the targeted consumer’s situation, the frequency with which she’s been messaged before. And there are multiple permutations around how these different factors interact with each other and affect the consumer’s response to the message.

Aversano mentioned upfront deals with its Adult Swim and truTV brands that have some element of attribution baked in. “We’re toying with the idea, but I want to be really clear: There are still a ton of questions,” Aversano said. “There are folks who say they can do it, but when you dig into how, they’re just not doing it.”

Of course, measuring return on ad spend is MODI’s raison d’être. And for Power, the multitouch measurement process is both extremely manual and extremely arduous. She referred to herself as a human dashboard.

“I bring everything together,” she said. “I work with Acxiom, I find the segments, I make the measurements look the same. There’s no automation and it’s really hard to get it right. It’s really hard to get all the permissions if you want to go across digital and television.”

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