Be Wary Of Walls When It Comes To Connected TV Measurement

On TV And Video” is a column exploring opportunities and challenges in advanced TV and video.

Today’s column is written by Julian Baring, general manager, North America, at Adform.

All eyes in advertising right now are on over-the-top (OTT) and other connected TV experiences, and for good reason. Consumers have spoken. This is how they consume content now.

Yes, it’s fractured across channels, platforms and devices. But consumers’ experiences with the content feel seamless, and that’s what matters to them. It’s up to the ad industry to figure out how brands can be a part of these experiences just as seamlessly.

To say that the industry still has much to figure out with connected TV, particularly with measurement, would be a laughable understatement. But in the race to build connected TV into the full-fledged advertising dollar magnet that we know it should be, our industry must resist the urge to settle for short-term solutions.

We need to learn from our past experiences with other emerging digital opportunities, including search and social media, and ensure that we’re not letting walls go up that we will one day struggle to break down.

The big guys figure it out first

We’re already seeing some pretty heavy hitters emerge in the connected TV advertising space, and it should come as no surprise that these companies are the ones announcing new initiatives to better help advertisers understand their connected TV ROI.

Roku, for example, unveiled its Measurement Partner Program late last year. The program and its 11 initial partners – Acxiom, Comscore, Experian, Factual, IHS Markit, Kantar, Nielsen, Nielsen Catalina Solutions, Oracle Data Cloud, Placed and Research Now SSI – intend to help advertisers measure the impact of their OTT campaigns, including audience demographics, brand awareness, store visits, website visits and sales increases.

And last month Hulu announced the beta test of new, performance-based measurement to help its advertisers figure out how many people are converting (whether via a sale, app download, etc.) as a result of seeing their ads on its service. Hulu expects to roll out a full-fledged performance-based product later this year.

These and other moves in the connected TV space represent welcome progress toward bringing accountability and greater understanding into this nascent channel. But they stop significantly short of the advances our industry will require to truly orient connected TV efforts within the broader marketing funnel.

Pursuing the cross-channel dream

For years now, marketers have been calling for – and making progress toward – a fuller, cross-channel understanding of the impact of their ad spending. The dream is not only to be able to identify the many places where a customer encountered brand messaging along their path to purchase, but also how that messaging played into their decision to buy.

We’ve come a long way in connecting the dots on a customer’s digital journey, but significant blind spots remain, particularly with walled gardens.

Despite the big players accounting for most of today’s digital ad spend, advertisers, particularly in the wake of GDPR, find it incredibly difficult to integrate campaign results from these platforms into their broader view of their customers. This creates a blind spot when trying to understanding the impact of these campaigns in the context of their broader advertising efforts in offline and online channels.

Given the nascent stage of today’s connected TV space, our industry has an opportunity to avoid similar blind spots down the line. Helping advertisers understand their ROI on these emerging platforms is essential, but such an understanding cannot be created in a vacuum.

As the industry comes together to determine the impact of connected TV advertising, it must also put that impact into context – not only across the many connected TV and OTT platforms, but also across other channels, including search, social, mobile, digital out of home, digital audio and more.

As an industry, we’ve spent decades trying to tear down silos. We shouldn’t add to our challenges by letting new ones emerge in connected TV. Walls that go up today could prove nearly impossible to tear down later.

So let’s not build them at all. Connected TV represents perhaps the single greatest marketing opportunity of the past century, both in terms of scale and advertising impact. Let’s get it right. 

Follow Julian Baring (@Baring), Adform (@adform) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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