TiVo Research Hooks Up With NinthDecimal In A Bid To Connect TV Viewing With Offline Sales

TivoResearchNinthDecimalWhen the head bean-counter at Brand X walks into the CMO’s office and wants proof that TV spending works, the CMO needs a better answer than “My gut tells me it does.”

“Ask anyone in charge of a TV budget, and they’ll tell you that they intuitively know it works,” said David Staas, president of mobile and location data company NinthDecimal. “But they need to be able to prove it better.”

A partnership between TiVo Research (TiVo, Inc. subsidiary) and NinthDecimal that was announced Thursday aims to help marketers gather those proof points by connecting TV viewership with offline store visits.

“Television, especially in the US, is measured using 1940s-era methodologies with very small panels where we ask people to push buttons or write down what they watch on pieces of paper,” said Frank Foster, SVP and GM at TiVo Research. “That’s quite unlike digital, which is bought and sold on a variety of data points beyond sex and age.”

It’s not as if TV spend isn’t enormous – according to Strategy Analytics, marketers will shell out $78.8 billion on television in 2015 (42.2% of overall spend) – but there is pressure to prove its effectiveness when compared to or complementing digital, which is forecasted to account for $52.8 billion in spend this year (28.3% of overall spend), up 13% YoY.

The crux of the TiVo Research/NinthDecimal alliance is an agreement to jointly bring to market a tool dubbed LCI TV, an extension of NinthDecimal’s Location Conversion Index product, which launched in March alongside a partnership with Publicis Groupe media shop ZenithOptimedia around offline attribution.

LCI taps location data from NinthDecimal – the company claims to see around 200 billion data points produced via 120 million monthly active devices – to measure incremental in-store lift for mobile and desktop campaigns.

In the case of LCI TV, NinthDecimal aggregates location data together with data gleaned from TiVo Research, which has access to moment by moment TV viewership from TiVo set-top boxes in 4.4 million US households, as well as user-level data onboarded through partnerships with data companies, cable operators and the like. TiVo Research also has relationships with Comcast, Charter Communications, Experian, Acxiom and 84.51 (formerly dunnhumby), among others.

For both LCI and LCI TV, mobile is the connective tissue that makes the match.

“Mobile connects the dots between different forms of media, but it’s not just about mobile or digital,” Staas said. “It’s about integrating all the other traditional forms of media as well, including television.”

In some cases, television combined with mobile packs the most in-store foot traffic punch. In other cases, television blended with desktop advertising might do the trick, or perhaps television alone is the way to go.

It’s a matter of measuring which channel or channels most impact offline incremental lift and then adjusting spend accordingly.

Although Staas declined to share specific client names, he did say that several brands and broadcasters have been piloting LCI TV, now generally available, since earlier this year.

One national quick-serve restaurant chain used the tool to test its advertising related to a major sporting event. It compared foot traffic generated by TV exposure between a test group and a control group with similar demographic characteristics in an analogous geo.

NinthDecimal noted a 15.1% increase in incremental store visits, a number higher than its digital benchmark for quick-service restaurants of 12.2%. Out of the 2.3 million store visits logged during the campaign, around 350,000 were incremental visits driven by TV.

In that example, TV was the best bet. In others, a combo deal works better, as was the case with a theatrical brand promoting a new movie trailer via multiple cross-channel campaigns. NinthDecimal and TiVo Research were able to determine that a mix of TV together with mobile drove the greatest foot traffic to theaters on opening weekend.

The tool can also be used to create real-world segments based off of physical behavior, Staas said. Rather than creating segments based on age and gender, brands can augment their targeting with custom requests like “people who frequently dine at my restaurant” or “people who only come into my coffee shop once a week.”

Staas demurred when asked if LCI TV was positioning itself as a competitor to Nielsen.

“The objective is not to be a replacement for Nielsen,” he said. “But if you talk to almost any marketer, they’ll tell you that they’re tired of being saddled by only having age and gender as the basis for audience data.”

NBCUniversal’s president of ad sales, Linda Yaccarino, feels that way. NBCU officially transitioned away from Nielsen for measurement, in favor of research firm Cogent Reports at the beginning of October for CNBC, hinting that other channels might soon follow.

“One day, I hope to wake up and Nielsen will actually be able to measure cross-platform viewership, but today we can’t do it – and I can’t help our marketing customers as much as I would like to,” Yaccarino said at an Interactive Advertising Bureau event during Advertising Week in September. “We couldn’t wait for Nielsen any longer.”

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