Traditional linear TV measurement was a relatively straightforward affair with standardised metrics and common vocabulary allowing all parties to build and formulate assertions off a single mass audience – so everyone was on the same page about how to translate this viewership into useful metrics that could be harnessed in advertising.
Today, a plethora of different channels, devices and ways to watch media means that audiences are fragmented. They overlap, share profiles, they co-view in select instances despite the rise of individual viewing, and there is more repeat and time-delayed viewing.
The splintering of audiences across multiple devices and challenges have given rise to new metrics, all with their unique formulations. In Australia, OzTam and Nielsen tend to be the predominant measures for linear TV and BVOD, but there are emerging technologies that disrupt this space as media owners and buyers seek to achieve cross platform measurement. With this amalgam of metrics, comparison can be difficult for marketers when dealing with audience, both their own and with media owners. The proliferation of different data and definitions means that media reports are rarely comparing apples to apples- each metric contains its own subtleties and allowances in measurements need to be made accordingly.
This leads to attribution challenges as the industry continues to grapple with ways to directly correlate ad views with greater brand awareness or sales. One challenging scenario is when campaigns are planned with one set of data, activated with a second set and reported with a third set leading to weakened correlations and unexpected outcomes. This lack of clarity and misaligned data may cause unintended results in post campaign reporting and subsequent follow ups.
Strategies to improve ad effectiveness
Despite the disconnect, there are certain strategies that marketers can employ to improve ad effectiveness.
The first is for media buyers and media platforms to work together more closely to align campaign goals and deliver campaigns. This can help bridge the gap between the planning of campaigns and the fulfilment stages, so the original intent is not lost, leading to unsatisfactory results.
Another area is ensuring that the best (i.e. most appropriate) data is used. Everyone has access to data and insights on audience, but the source data is usually varied which has a knock-on effect on planning, delivery and reporting. Marketers would have the best understanding of their consumers whilst media owners, through the nature of logged in data, have the best understanding of their viewer’s behaviour across all platforms. When marketers and media platforms develop a closer collaboration and mutual understanding of the desired outcomes, the appropriate data can be used to plan and execute campaigns whereby stronger, more effective results are achieved.
Unified video audience measurement
Of course, the most obvious answer to the measurement dilemma is one, commonly used measurement. The industry has so far not gained traction in terms of creating a standardised metric. British broadcaster, Sky UK recently made an attempt to develop a unified measurement to focus on one aggregated audience, treating audiences on linear and digital platforms as one. It aims to deliver “one audience, one currency, one simple way to book, measure and manage campaigns”.
This could potentially be the first building block to a unified metric methodology that the global ad industry can embrace to bolster measurement and in turn, improve ad effectiveness. But there is much work to be done – the issue will also require better transparency and collaborating between media platforms to ensure we’re all working towards the same goals.
Eventually, new solutions will emerge for this challenge that utilise a subscription user base as the foundation of its process. With an informed view of all users across broadcast, streaming and the multitude of apps and platforms in between, these emerging solutions will have an aggregate, scalable audience able to be reached wherever they watch, whenever they watch.
With better data and measurement for media and marketers alike, we can close the loop, connect the dots, align expectations, and together drive more cost-effective results with a scalable solution that fits the brief.
By Sammy Lo, Foxtel Media’s director of technology and operations
This article was first published by BandT