The 5G Revolution Already Presents Unique Challenges For Marketing Measurement

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

Today’s column is written by Ken Archer, vice president of product at Survata.

As a marketer, it’s often difficult to know how to respond to 5G hype and provide guidance internally so you’re not caught flat-footed. So many 5G predictions for marketers won’t happen until broader adoption of new modalities such as autonomous vehicles, wearables and augmented and virtual reality gain greater adoption. While these longer-term trends get a lot of attention, 5G will impact marketers in serious ways before any implications from the aforementioned really take hold.

One such more near-term impact is to marketing measurement. Many people understand that 5G will require significant infrastructure investment before it’s fully realized, but that 5G infrastructure and its build-out will affect how marketers measure ad effectiveness in profound ways that don’t depend on adoption of new media-consumption forms.

Three of the most consequential implications relate to location tracking, household-level measurement and the shift to over-the-top providers and connected TV.

Location tracking

The 5G microcell infrastructure makes location tracking far more precise, which also creates several implications for ad measurement.

First, location-tracking companies could be subject to increasing regulatory scrutiny as the amount of time spent on mobile devices and mobile location-tracking increase. Regulatory scrutiny of location tracking is already widely expected by US policymakers, and increasing the volume and precision of this data will only further invite Federal Trade Commission and congressional scrutiny.

At the same time, the accuracy of more privacy-friendly geolocation also will improve. With the widespread rollout of microcell infrastructure, the ability to target and measure based on postal code-level census demographics, as happens very effectively with traditional direct marketing, will skyrocket.

The combination of these two issues could result in a significant transformation of how location data is leveraged for digital marketing – away from visit lift measurement and geofence targeting and toward postal code-level demographic targeting that enables direct-marketing campaigns to extend onto mobile.

Loss of household-level measurement

As connected TVs (CTVs) increasingly connect to cell towers instead of Wi-Fi routers, and video consumption migrates to mobile devices also connected to cell towers, the reduced availability of household-level, IP-based identifiers for measurement will have an impact across the ecosystem.

Cross-device measurement largely relies upon householding as an initial step toward user-level cross-device mapping. Householding depends on IPs, assigning IPs as residential or not residential, and then assigning devices to residential IPs based on network patterns. However, without these IPs, pairing probabilistic cross-device graphs with devices within a household based on common browsing patterns is undermined.

Furthermore, household-level identifiers are the foundation for much of TV measurement and audience onboarding.  Without the IP addresses that anchor many household-level identifiers, much of TV measurement and onboarding will need to find an alternative identifier.

And since IP addresses will also be considered personal information under the upcoming California Consumer Privacy Act, there’s additional motivation for advertisers to find another type of identifier.

Increasingly rapid shift of video consumption to OTT and CTV

By now everyone knows that 5G infrastructure means video consumption will continue its rapid shift from linear TV to over-the-top (OTT) and CTV. However, this change presents serious issues for ad measurement.

TV ad targeting increasingly will migrate from traditional age- and gender-targeting to the rich targeting capabilities marketers expect in digital advertising. This migration ultimately disrupts decades of traditional TV measurement. Traditional TV marketers, who have historically relied on ad measurement to validate that their TV ads reached targeted ages and genders, will start to sound a lot like their digital marketing colleagues who’ve loudly called for better validation of digital-audience targets. Third-party audience targets have largely been a black box with little to no validation, meaning there are sometimes questions that messages actually reach the people data providers claim they do. While greater data transparency and validation have been an emerging area of concern, especially as more TV budgets rely on these targets, TV advertisers should demand that more data transparency becomes a requirement.

In addition, the shift of video consumption to OTT and CTV means that the rollout of 5G infrastructure also will disrupt traditional, top-down TV effectiveness measurement based on marketing mixed modeling. In order to secure video budgets, agencies that focus on TV advertising will increasingly have to adopt bottoms-up, multitouch attribution approaches to understand the key drivers of video ad effectiveness.

The bottom line is that 5G and its effects for marketers is no longer a theoretical experience. Some of its infrastructure deployments are already changing how marketers approach measurement, and for those advancements that haven’t happened yet, the planning should’ve already started.

Follow Survata (@Survata) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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