Data Quality Is Key To Addressable TV Ad Accountability

TV still accounts for the majority of the time people spend with a screen — and the largest spend of any media is still on TV. But things have definitely changed with the introduction of multiscreen options -- and marketers have to figure out how to apply data to their television investment.

Simply put, how can advertisers micro-target TV viewers the same way they can online? 

Now, Starcom MediaVest Group -- which has spent the past 10 years testing household-addressable television -- has released findings on how best to accomplish the goal of “Driving Data to Television.” The results focus on three important issues around data-driven solutions: data, privacy and measurement.

"We are seeing accountability for the first time when it comes to TV," says SMG senior vice president/director Steve Murtos. "There's big value in finding efficiency and effectiveness in measuring results different from the traditional approach."



Indeed, there are 40 million households with addressable or targeted TVs, and four major operators can deliver household-addressable advertising. 

Still, in order to ensure that addressable TV continues to scale, advertisers must evaluate the quality of the data used at the "front end" in developing target audiences and in the "back end" with the measurement.

Unlike linear TV, where advertisers define targets solely based on age and gender, for addressable TV there are a myriad of options from third-party consumer sources, such as Acxiom or Experian, or first-party advertiser-collected data, such as membership databases. 

SMG advises advertisers to assess data sources and question their processes. "This means making sure sources collected by third-party agencies are representative and consistent across all addressable operations," says Helen Katz, senior vice president, director of research, SMG.

Other factors that must be addressed include whether the information is known or modeled, how frequently it is refreshed and its scale. Also, it is essential to acknowledge privacy concerns of viewers and to ensure these viewers feel protected against any privacy concerns. Ultimately, viewers need to understand the benefits, provide reassurances, and acknowledge risks associated with micro-targeted TV advertising. 

Lastly, per the SMG research, it is important to identify common standards and metrics for measuring the results of addressable campaigns, recognizing that not all online metrics apply to television. In addition to the standard campaign delivery reports, SMG recommends that its advertisers build in experimental designs to demonstrate whether a campaign drives consumer response, brand attitude shift and/or product sales. 

Ultimately, the industry needs to identify core essentials to start the conversation to change the current model. "It's powerful for us to be able to link ad exposure directly to sales data and demonstrate the impact TV is driving," says Murtos. "There are already ways to measure online views, and we need to have the same sort of values for TV viewers."


3 comments about "Data Quality Is Key To Addressable TV Ad Accountability ".
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  1. Cody Crane from CCH, June 10, 2014 at 3:07 p.m.

    It boggles the mind that an agency engaged for ten years in addressable advertising could produce so vapid a set of conclusions. Is there anything in this report that an overpaid summer intern would not have intuited by the first week of July. It is more clear every day why the programmatic folks and their new data executions will side step these slow moving behemoths like so many Japanese fortified Islands during Operation Cartwheel.
    "SMG recommends that its advertisers build in experimental designs to demonstrate whether a campaign drives consumer response, brand attitude shift, and/or product sales. " - Really, you don't say - Test things. These conclusions might rouse the bones of Erwin Ephron. - CC

  2. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, June 11, 2014 at 4:51 a.m.

    The basic issue with so-called addressable TV up to this point is its reliance on set tuning not viewer data. You can't assume that because a TV set is tuned in while an "addressable" commercial is aired that the intended target----one or more of the human residents in the home---- is "watching. That's why TV advertisers abandoned "household audiences" in favor of viewer data 50 years ago. Another big issue is determining whether the home is really a valid target. A number of the addressable TV plans put forth in the past, relied on slicing and dicing geographical segments. If your product tilts towards upscale homes and a particular home is located in an upscale-oriented area, the system assumes that this home is automatically "in the market" for the product even though that may not be the case. That's the same as zip code marketing, used for decades with only limited effectiveness by marketers. Sure, its better than throwing out messages more or less randomly, but not that much better. A far superior method of determining whether a consumer is really interested in your product must be found and tracking Internet activity is probably the best way to accomplish that. As far as knowing whether the "target" actually watches the commercial, that's another problem that remains to be solved----a really big problem.

  3. William Lederer from MRP Advisers LLC, June 11, 2014 at 5:53 p.m.

    I find Cody's comments about this summary report covering this challenging topic naive, ungenerous, and uninformed. We programmatic people benefit directly from SMG's pioneering work. I know I have.

    Helen Katz, the SMG team and their clients should be lauded for the investment in time, money, and reputation they have risked so consistently to bring real innovation to such a stodgy, yet powerful medium. It would have been far easier to quit along the way given the institutional, quality, and economic challenges faced just trying to deliver more relevant messages to audiences more efficiently. The fact that SMG has been so willing to share with others outside their organization their learnings is a gift to each of us whom have benefited from their diligence and insights.

    I say this as someone who has spent thousands of hours working on building, fixing, deploying and optimizing set top box measurement, addressable TV, online and mobile video measurement and analytics, and now programmatic digital.

    These challenges we face as addressable media practitioners are non-trivial and will remain so for years to come. Caveat emptor, especially when we rely on non-real time measurement, modeled 3rd party audience data, very small sample sizes, and black box methods of validation, but let's keep at's worth it. I just wish the cost of the media and data didn't absorb so much of the efficiencies we seek.

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