By Charbel Makhoul, Vice President of Product Management, Data Science and Analytics, VIZIO
Digital streaming is revolutionizing television, disrupting many of the norms and expectations long held by programmers, viewers, and advertisers alike.
FAST services delivered to millions of customers from TV manufacturers are looking more and more like the next iteration of cable TV.
So in our rush to adopt all the new benefits of digitally delivered programming and ads, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. There remain several practices from the linear past that must have a place in our digital future… particularly when brands are measuring both formats for their current ad buys. We’re not reinventing the wheel here. TV is still TV, regardless of the format used to deliver it.
Take for instance TV impression count. In the linear world, it’s a common practice to take into account the likelihood that multiple people may be watching TV at the same time in the same household, and therefore considering the co-viewings becomes a key factor to accurately measure ad reach and ratings.
But in the digital streaming space to date, impressions have traditionally been measured differently. Because CTV is a “digital” channel, impressions were measured like other “digital” devices such as smartphones, laptops, and tablets. These are personal devices, and as such are measured as one-to-one impressions. Advertisers target a personal device to specifically reach the individual behind the device.
The TV however is a shared device, and is a far more social device, typically viewed by several household members at once. Hence, measuring a CTV impression as one-to-one simply because it was delivered along similar digital lines as smartphones and laptops is an outdated idea that hopefully will soon become an outdated practice as well.
Digital delivery is not the similarity we should be comparing here. The TV is.
Which is why we at VIZIO are updating our CTV measurement practices to align more closely with linear TV measurement standards as it relates to audience measurement using co-viewings. We recently integrated Nielsen’s Digital Ad Ratings, which offer a far more realistic and complete audience measurement for advertisers and programmers alike.
Advertisers have the ability now to transact on co-viewed CTV impressions allowing for more accurate audience reach measurement.
Digital Ad Ratings for VIZIO leverages Inscape’s currency grade ACR viewing data, as well as Nielsen’s panel assets and other data sets to determine household constitution and who is in front of the TV screen (aka co-viewing factors).
Here’s how it works: We pass our ACR data from over 20 million opted-in TVs on to Nielsen, where data scientists analyze the viewing data and combine it with other data sets in order to determine how many people are in each household. Nielsen then applies its panel information to determine how many people are likely watching a particular program or ad at the same time. It does this by applying the learnings from panels on a variety of factors: demographics, genre, time of day, etc. That way it is able to determine the probability that certain demos in each household are going to be in front of the television at any given point.
The approach will simply make CTV measurement more like an apples-to-apple comparable to linear, which then makes it easy to plan across both.
When we compared the number of ads presented to each TV (Served Ads) to the number of people who saw those ads based on co-viewing data (Tracked Ads), we saw a 30% increase. These results reflected equally on the Target Demo Efficiency Rate which has a massive benefit for advertisers who want to accurately quantify the size of the audiences their ads reach. It also has the positive effect of reducing advertising waste during the planning and targeting phases and ensuring relevant ads are being delivered to the right audiences.
Cross-format measurement standards are important for brands when comparing performance across an entire campaign. Different standards for digital and linear may continue to exist, but we shouldn’t compare these different standards in any meaningful way. When the time comes to compare digital and linear results, we need a consistent, apples-to-apples way to do so.
After all, VIZIO’s ACR data is collected for both linear and streaming sources. Applying accurate and consistent measurement across both formats with the same methodology as well not only makes it easier for advertisers to understand the full reach of their campaigns, it represents a needed maturation of the CTV industry.
Yes, formats change. But TV is still TV.