The writing is on the wall for TV too

TV by Lubs Mary. FlickrMeasurement within print advertising has come under fire recently, criticism that online advertising has been seeing for sometime – not least from chair of Thinkbox, Tess Alps.

This is not the first time that transparency across online advertising has been compared unfavourably to other channels, and it is often TV that is held up as a shining example of an advertising model, but we often forget where it falls down and where online excels in terms of measurement and accountability.

Online advertisers benefit from measurement that, unlike BARB, is fuelled by data as opposed to extrapolating trends from 5,000 households, equating to 12,000 individuals. It is an industry that knows about bots, with companies like Integral Ad Science and Double Verify working towards technology that will protect advertisers. More than that, it prices space differently based on its likelihood of being seen as well as demand for that space, and can provide insight into which placements actually had an overall effect on campaign success. Yes there is fraud in some areas of the internet, but we can still measure impact scientifically and results will only improve as technology steps in to solve the problem.

In comparison, we have to ask, who knows who is actually watching a TV ad? The answer is that we have very little insight into this. Online marketers are benefiting from being able to target through data and measure results like click through rates, or later searches or direct website visits after an ad is delivered – something that is currently entirely missing in TV advertising.

We also have to remember that online is a lot more cost effective. If we take the Super Bowl ads – $4m for 30 seconds of airtime when the audience was most likely going to the bar, to the bathroom or simply discussing the game and not paying attention. For this a brand could buy a homepage takeover for months and be able to measure the results, as well as test and optimise messaging to improve results. Owing to this, despite all the issues that we see in online advertising, its ROI acts competitively against all other channels.

This is often seen as a threat to more traditional channels, however soon all channels will be online. Set top boxes are increasingly being connected and tracked, and younger generations spend more time than ever watching IPTV or OTT services like Netflix and NowTV. As TV becomes increasingly connected, and the same type of measurement and tracking we see in digital advertising sweeps in, all of the issues that are facing the online advertising industry will be exposed on TV – and ultimately we will realise that it is just as flawed.

The good news is that no matter where you are advertising, the ability to know whether your advert had a measurable impact on the particular individual it was served to is the Holy Grail. Only technology can enable this. So while we shouldn’t stop fighting the issues within our industry, we should also remember the positive impact technology is having on the way we work. Advertising is more targeted, precise and accountable than ever before when you are online – and this revolution is just round the corner for traditional media too.

Wolf Allisat, SVP International at Ensighten

  • Tess_Alps

    Hello Wolf. Thanks for your response and the apocalyptic headline. We don’t get many of those in TV.

    I am afraid you have missed the point of what I wrote. This is not a TV vs online issue – partly because TV is also online – but a people vs machines issue. We were all promised total accountability and transparency from online advertising but all we are getting is the tracking of a device, whether a human is present or not.

    Measuring people is much more challenging but BARB, through
    its various research partners, has been doing it reliably and consistently and
    with the trust of the industry for decades. Watching TV – at least on the big screen – is mostly a shared activity so just measuring the set (which is done as part of the BARB number) is inadequate. It doesn’t tell us how many
    are watching or who they are.

    Only people who don’t understand statistics would say that a panel of 12,000 measured second by second is inadequate. Is it the absolute truth? Of course not. For a start, it misses out quite big chunks of TV viewing (out-of home, halls of residence, hotels etc) and occasionally it can be frustrating for smaller channels and programmes. But is has enormous integrity and advertisers know they are not being ripped off in the £4.5 billion ad market it is vital to.

    BARB is also open to any appropriate methodology and if you’ve watched their film you will see that they will be incorporating server data from broadcasters to produce the player reports which are a part of Project Dovetail.

    Finally, you made some point about how expensive TV is. You’re on dangerous ground here. You simply cannot compare media CPTs meaningfully because of
    their vastly different methodologies. Nor should you just assess media by the instant effect they create, though of course TV is rather excellent at producing web visits, tweets etc etc. But If we don’t also care about the effect of advertising on how people feel about brands, which might only end up in an action months or years later, then we will be dangerously undervaluing what we all do. The only valid common metric is ROI – ideally over at least 12 months – and this should be the starting point for all media investment decisions. You’ll be delighted to hear that nothing can beat TV when it comes to paying back ad investment with profit

  • Justin Sampson

    Hi Wolf, thanks for your thoughts.

    Picking up on Tess’ post, the future of audience measurement will be based on two fundamental principles.

    Firstly, it should harness the complementary strengths of new and established data sources. BARB’s strategy is to combine people based research with device-based data. Doing this well is not easy so delivery is in a number of steps. The first of these should be published before the year is out.

    Secondly, it should deliver a gold standard planning and buying currency that stands up to independent scrutiny. Advertisers’ expectations are for metrics that account for both the number of people who see an advert and the length of time they watch. The binary view that an online video ad is seen if at least two seconds are viewed would be a backward step compared to BARB’s metrics.

    As you say TV is held up as a shining example of how to get it right. That’s because of the rigour we apply to the numbers we produce. This will remain true as we use both people based research and device-based data.