The Most Powerful Channel For Media Data? It Might Be TV
Quite the opposite. Digital media may be winning the buzz war, but TV continues to impress. And I'm not just talking about the enormous viewership TV continues to pull, even for watching programs at the moment they air. I'm talking about TV as an extraordinarily powerful platform for leveraging data.
I could cite a lot of examples of how TV continues to pull ahead on the data front. But I'll point to just three: the immense boon that DVRs can be for TV ads; the value of social graph data for media planning; and the new face of ROI metrics for television.
DVRs make TV ads more valuable. Yes, that's a surprising approach for an advertising industry insider to take-but the fact is, DVRs are one of the greatest potential sources of data in the advertising landscape today. Every DVR usage leaves a trail of information that tells both buyers and creatives what ads are skipped through, what ads are viewed, what points in the ad gained the best engagement, and even which ads viewers chose to watch multiple times. When you think about it, there's a reason TiVo has sidelined into the analytics business.
Social graph data is TV planning data. My thoughts last week notwithstanding, there's a ton of opportunity to link social data to TV planning. After all, social networks are the place we discuss the things that are the most top of mind -- and for many of us, that means talking about the TV shows we love. eMarketer sums up the research on the topic nicely, noting that "43% of online adults have gone online or used social media to engage with TV programming in some way" -- and the numbers are higher for the coveted 18-34 demographic. Mew technology is making the TV/ social connections tighter: Comcast's latest version of Xfinity TV, for instance, helps customers use Facebook to let friends' favorite TV shows guide them in their own viewing.
That's a ton of social graph data telling you what demographic engages most deeply with which shows. For a TV planner, that's a gold mine.
TV data is now ROI data. With the notable exception of low-quality DR spots, we've been trained to understand TV as almost exclusively a reach play -- offering a lot less information linking ads to performance than other channels do. But TV is becoming more direct, and more metrics-rich, than ever before. Enterprises like TRA marry TV ads with actual purchase activity, while ventures including Canoe bring direct response to the set-top-box, allowing TV viewers to download coupons and catalogs directly through their TV screens. Then there's the new mobile / TV connections-which set the stage for new levels of individualized data that can tie TV ads with mobile conversion and targeting information. One example: Mobile music service Shazam has raised $32 million to forge deeper into TV-triggered mobile coupons and mobile brand engagement, with advertisers like Old Navy, Paramount, and Procter & Gamble signing on to the program.
Has TV reached the point of being as addressable and accountable as online marketing? Not as of today. But combine the new data-rich TV technologies with the digital sources of planning data, and mix them with the enormous pool of viewers who still engage with TV enough to make a nice side career -- and I wouldn't change the channel on TV metrics just yet.
Sure, there's no limit to the data that digital media can provide. But for the most powerful marketing platform available now, I'll still flip on the old tube.