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TV Buyers Demand More Transparent Measurement

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Kelly Metz, managing director of linear and advanced TV activation at Omnicom Media Group, will be speaking at Programmatic I/O, taking place in New York from October 17–18. You don’t want to miss it. Click here to register.

TV spots used to be sold based on program guides. But in the new world of streaming, media ownership is fragmented, and transactions are based on audience data and ad exposures.

Still, TV content – even when it’s delivered digitally – is often consumed on a shared device, which means measurement has to be about more than just counting impressions.

To plan, target and measure media buys on TV, advertisers need to resolve identity at the household level, said Kelly Metz, managing director of linear and advanced TV activation at Omnicom Media Group.

And household-level measurement calls for full media transparency, she said, which includes adding program-level insights into programmatic buys.

“If I can’t understand who is seeing my ad or where it’s running, then we don’t have an effective marketplace,” Metz said. “We need better planning for streaming. That’s the measurement hurdle we’re trying to clear.”

Metz spoke with AdExchanger.

AdExchanger: How close is the TV industry to a cross-platform measurement solution?

KELLY METZ: Cross-platform measurement is already well underway – but it’s a journey, and we’re not at the finish line yet.

The most important thing about the world of measurement we’re entering is that there’s no monopoly. There are a lot of different measurement vendors competing in the space now, and that will drive constant innovation, which is really healthy for our industry.

There are clear leaders, like VideoAmp and iSpot, and there’s also Nielsen lurking and almost ready to reemerge with Nielsen ONE.

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But all of these companies vying for status are still in the first inning. There’s a long way to go before market consensus determines winners and losers.

Speaking of Nielsen, where will panels fit into the TV measurement picture?

Audience panels are enormously valuable as research to inform the data science that gets applied to larger, census-level data sets.

But panels alone aren’t scalable, and the way the TV industry uses panels for measurement is changing. We’re moving from Nielsen’s person-based audience panel to even smaller, more nuanced panels meant to calibrate big data sets to derive more person-level metrics.

But the obsession with personification and person-level data as a TV measurement currency is a dangerous prospect. No matter how many of us “Netflix and chill” by ourselves, the industry needs precise measurement at the household level to account for co-viewing.

Does the concept of identity in the digital ecosystem mean something different for TV buyers?

From a measurement perspective, yes. TV is based on the household.

But from a targeting perspective, not so much. TV is still one-to-one – it’s just that TV ads target a specific device, rather than a specific person.

Household-level targeting is extremely accurate, and additional panel- or person-based data can help derive more granular metrics to reliably predict who in a household is watching. But where TV measurement is most accurate and precise is at the household level.

How exactly should first-party data be applied to household-level measurement?

First-party viewership data needs to be tied to a reliable household identity.

Smart TV device manufacturers are in a unique position to do this because they have consented log-in [and ACR] data. With some third-party data augmentation, those device manufacturers can help normalize TV measurement at the household level. That’s what buyers need in order to enable planning and measurement.

How is measurement adapting to privacy laws that limit certain types of first-party data use, like IP addresses?

It’s a question of whether companies are using and handling IP address data with the security it deserves as personal identifiable information.

In television, if you’re a major streamer that’s navigating the identity world almost exclusively on IP addresses, you’re in trouble. Today, sophisticated streamers are integrating and matching identity in privacy-safe clean room environments.

As an agency, I can match data with media partners on behalf of my advertisers without having to show my cards. An advertiser’s first-party data set never leaves that clean room environment, but I’m able to translate it based on multitudes of attributes across a media partner’s identity spine.

The industry is building next-generation measurement infrastructure because we know IP addresses can’t be it.

But it’s also a matter of practical reality. On the streaming side, multiple emails can be associated with one subscriber ID. That’s why we need the flexibility to safely match data sets for measurement accuracy.

What’s the biggest thing holding up cohesive TV measurement from the buyer’s perspective?

Program-level transparency in media buying, which is the simplest path for buyers to plan reach and viewership across network groups.

Historically, TV buyers always had program-level transparency to index audiences. Media buying was based on a program schedule. But that’s not how publishers sell their streaming inventory. Today, we’re limited to ad exposure data sets, which, frankly, are very large, but they’re less accurate in predicting reach than pure program viewership data.

There’s also the brand safety issue. I need details about where I’m running to determine if it’s appropriate for an advertiser. Agencies have real brand safety concerns. We represent liquor brands, for example, and they just can’t market around certain content.

We want parity with linear; we want program-level data – and we don’t want it for the sake of wanting it. We want it for very specific purposes.

Would that level of transparency also solve TV’s frequency problem?

Well, the challenge with frequency is that the bulk of TV media is transacted using only supply-side ad servers, and they can only frequency cap what they see, which is their own inventory.

Only the buy side is in a position to manage frequency at the campaign level, and our ability to do that is limited.

Do TV media sellers have any asks for the buy side?

Sellers want to know that the money is there and that the dollars will continue to move. But to guarantee that, I need to be able to accurately represent the potential for reach across streaming platforms.

The only thing that’s really changing is the delivery mechanism for TV, from linear to over-the-top.

How should the industry start to solve these problems?

Programmatic buying is the solution.

The ideal is to have global visibility across media buys in one platform. We all know that’s never really going to happen because we have walled garden outliers like YouTube. But agencies want to get as close as possible to transparency across video inventory to be able to manage global campaigns in near real time, including frequency.

The first shift is insertion orders moving to programmatic guaranteed because TV advertisers still buy reserved inventory through direct deals. Then, programmatic guaranteed will shift to include more private marketplace opportunities.

That’s the natural evolution of TV measurement that’s already underway. The question is, how fast will it move?

What’s the next step in the evolution of TV measurement?

Buyers need viewership data for media planning. Planning is the next hot topic we have to tackle, and to do that we need a baseline understanding of measurement.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

For more articles featuring Kelly Metz, click here.

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