The realities of a unified CTV measurement tool may shock advertisers

    The following is a guest piece by Michele Madaris, media director at Boathouse. Opinions are the author’s own.

    Video ad measurement is a hot topic these days and rightfully so. Measurement plays an integral role in media planning, buying, optimization and client’s business results. There has been a lot of discussion about moving as an industry toward a unified, cross-screen, cross-platform approach. As such, it seems we should be expecting a new era of video measurement, but is it achievable?

    Not too long ago, the media landscape was far less complex and advertisers were comfortable with having a siloed approach to measurement. The current landscape, however, is far more fragmented. The proliferation of video viewing experiences coupled with advertisers being forced to justify marketing expenditures has contributed to the drive for a unified approach. At the most simplistic state, the goal of the approach is to deliver smarter ad experiences across a variety of channels and be able to, with certainty, validate that you got the right message to the right audience at the right time.

    A unified approach is audience first, whereby we merge people based panel data and machine learning to create a seamless measurement approach across linear and connected television (CTV). The challenge is that panel data reflects a small portion of the population which is then extrapolated to project viewership of an entire local or national population.

    This is Nielsen’s methodology, which we learned is flawed. CTV, on the other hand, leans more toward the digital space anchored by IAB best practices. CTV is facing its own challenges with viewability and impressions potentially being delivered while devices are off. Other threats include the anticipated loss of third-party cookies which will greatly impact effective ad measurement against audiences.

    Advertisers, buyers and sellers all have a vested interest to get to a common approach in the near term. The industry is mandating it, but I believe we’re all realistic in understanding that it won’t happen overnight. The approach will likely take some time to materialize and we need to be patient in the short term, see the progress, and know there’s a long term goal.

    In the short term, we’ve seen migration towards common metrics across linear and CTV. This year’s upfront discussed a common currency that is applicable to both. In kind, good bye gross rating points and hello impressions. Digitally, the industry is quickly pivoting to the adoption of Unified ID 2.0 which is a better alternative to cookies. This will allow for audience-based measurement to continue in a way that is mutually beneficial to consumers (adhering to privacy regulations) and advertisers (allowing for personalized experiences).

    We also saw in the upfronts that TV networks and platforms like Paramount, Warner Bros. Discovery, Tubi, HBO Max, Disney and Peacock are all investing heavily in their data-driven capabilities. This demonstrates to the market that they know a change is needed and are going to invest in the migration to audience based metrics that allow for seamless audience-based deals across platforms.

    From there, the movement toward an industry standard and unified approach will be driven by the larger agency holding companies, in combination with the top brands driving CTV expenditures. Frankly, they have the budgets to test, learn and identify the standards for holistic and trustworthy measurement that provides transparency and flexibility for the industry.


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