The TV landscape of 2021 is unrecognizable compared to that of the 1950s when TV ad exposure measurement was born. As viewing habits have evolved over the decades, the advertising industry hasn’t always kept up-to-date. 

The worldwide pandemic and national lockdowns became a catalyst for change, with UK audiences spending on average an hour and a half more with TV across all platforms when compared to 2019. In particular, the accelerated convergence of broadcast and streaming has firmly established cross-platform TV – now an essential part of every advertiser’s media mix. 

In 2020 the global video streaming market was valued at over USD 50 billion, and by 2028 it is predicted to grow by 21%. Out of all TV’s forms, ad-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) revenue is expected to witness the fastest growth, increasing 55% by 2025. Coupled with the rising adoption of Smart TVs, which ranges from 65% to 76% across regions, the advertising industry must transform its cross-platform measurement capabilities.

It’s time to measure TV the way people watch it. Advertisers need real-time insights into the how, who, when, and where of their audiences – and most importantly, the what. What does TV, the most trusted advertising medium, help brands achieve? Here’s how data supplies the answer for measuring advertising reach and performance across time, platforms, and devices.

The ‘how’: Leveraging cross-platform TV 

Traditional and digital media are no longer truly separate entities in the advertising space. However, while platforms have been merging, TV audiences themselves have been fragmenting, necessitating new measurement solutions for the industry. These latest developments in TV have led advertisers to demand higher measurement standards of digital advertising to enable data-driven accuracy, adaptability, and rapid decision-making.  

Data enables brands to understand how to efficiently leverage all platforms in the TV mix and develop a streamlined media strategy that engages viewers. To successfully reach viewers across Smart TVs, tablets, and smartphones – to name but a few devices – advertisers need transparent data insights into which screens and platforms audiences use. Monitoring this allows brand advertisers to make informed optimizations to ad buys and frequency. 

The ‘who,’ ‘when,’ and ‘where’: Keeping up with viewing patterns 

In addition to the devices audiences use, TV advertisers must stay connected with ever-changing viewing patterns. 

The rise of remote working has increased the time audiences spend with TV platforms. In Germany, for instance, in November 2020, viewership showed a year-on-year increase of 18%, with viewing time increasing to 4.5 hours per day. Similar trends can be seen in other regions – during the first UK lockdown, the average time spent with TV grew by 1.5 hours, while US audiences are now engaging with daytime TV for over two additional hours in the working week.

As a result, advertisers need to develop accurate behavioral profiles of audiences. When combined with precise demographic and geographic insights, TV advertisers can utilize behavioral data to identify the most receptive viewers. By confirming who is watching and when, data analytics enable advertisers to define and target audience segments in the optimal time and place. Data is crucial to advancing TV’s targeting capabilities so that brands can deploy a more impactful advertising experience.

The ‘what’: Prioritizing a real-time view of outcomes 

Post-campaign performance is becoming a thing of the past, as TV advertisers expect a comprehensive view of every impression in real-time. Always-on analytics are essential for collecting diverse exposure and outcome data at scale and delivering valuable, instant insights. Combining different data types enables advertisers to connect household-level ad exposure to tangible outcomes – such as online conversions or in-store footfall, quantifying short and long-term campaign performance. In turn, this also facilitates quick, data-driven optimizations to ad creatives, media buys, and ad frequency, which minimizes wasted spend and boosts results.  

With the depth of audience data now available to them, advertisers understandably want the ability to tie their ad dollars to performance metrics. Being able to see how TV ads drive business outcomes allows brands to justify squeezed budgets. Global ad spend may have dipped due to economic uncertainties, but data will be vital to regaining investment in all forms of media.

The evolution of viewing habits shows no sign of slowing down, so TV advertising measurement must adapt in a way that keeps pace with it. Data successfully delivers the audience insights to maximize advertising performance no matter how, when, or where viewers watch TV. It empowers advertisers to make the most of their TV mix, develop flexible targeting methods, and build a transparent view of campaign results. As its advantages become more apparent, adopting real-time data analytics will become even more popular with TV advertisers.

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