TV Of Tomorrow: Changing Ad Models, Provable ROI

Tracy Swedlow, editor in chief of  InteractiveTV Today, is a futurist who always seems one step ahead of the industry. That’s why, if you want to stay informed, her TV of Tomorrow conference in New York each year is a must-attend.

Last year the conference focused on data. In 2013, it was TV Everywhere. Both of those issues are still very relevant and were part of this year’s program. (See a short video of some of the highlights and vendors videos from the conference here.)

Swedlow also focused on "touch points in the industry that include live streaming, programmatic, OTT… measurement, virtual reality, personalization and app-ification."

The burning issue is the “distribution of content. Can everyone keep up with all of the new content being made available? There are so many companies trying to build a relationship with the viewers directly. So the management of that, the distribution of that, the tracking of that is really critical.”



We not only still face a myriad of industry stresses that continue unabated -- but, like a hydra, these stresses form many new heads.

Here are some of them:

The App-ification of Television

Many agree that the definition of TV has fully evolved from being hardware (“The TV Box”) to, as Swedlow said, “anywhere… where you go to find content, augmented reality, virtual reality. Even digital signage — that is a form of TV… It could be a hologram standing in the middle of space.”   

Now that Apple is opening up its platform to a larger developer group, how will that impact video offerings? "How do you turn television into an application?” posited Swedlow.

Colin Dixon, principal, nScreenMedia, started off his panel on apps by saying, “You can't be a successful network unless you have an app that delivers content to devices. But it is hard to have a great app.” Keeping it simple and making the content easy and fast to access are important elements to a successful app.

And don’t stop there. Martijn van Horssen, CEO, Accedo warned, “You have to monitor the quality of your stream all the time. It is a continuous process to offer the best experience. Technology advances, and you have to advance, too.”

Measurement Challenges Continue

There is arguably no easy way for measurement to fully encompass all of the new services and distribution points now available in the industry. According to Joan Fitzgerald, comScore’s SVP television and cross-media services, “The system we rely on to measure (TV) content has been failing us.  We are not capturing all of the impressions consumed by consumers.”

Sherry Brennan, SVP distribution, Fox Networks, noted, “What is missing is currency in non-traditional platforms.”

“Measurement is going to be catching up all the time,” intoned Swedlow. “When they finally figure out some standardized way to add tags that can track individual assets and everyone accepts that standard, then I think we will have a really powerful industry that can drive monetization through all these networks.

“But until then, a lot of people in the live-streaming world are coming up with new ways to monetize what they are doing. If the companies out there trying to develop measurement and tracking technologies don’t solve this situation, they may find that someone else will come up with a new solution.”

Changing Advertising Models

Between addressable, dynamic ad insertion (DAI) and programmatic, there are more ways to target consumers and go beyond the traditional forms of buying media. But this is not easy.

According to Brennan, “Collectively we create issues by licensing our content to platforms that have no advertising like Netflix. Consumers get used to viewing content without ads. And so we face a double whammy….

“We can't target ads into linear yet but can target ads in time-shifted platforms. We may require viewers to interact with an ad before they see the content….But we need to be able to scale. We are at the end of the beginning to do what we want to do.”

Let’s Get to “Provable ROI”

Howard Shimmel, chief research officer at Turner Broadcasting, threw down a gauntlet to business-as-usual by saying, ”We need to measure audiences and break down the walls around dayparts. Dayparts really don't matter....

“Eventually we need to get to a world of predictive outcome measurement. So if we know that Conan sells soda better than cars, we need to be responsive to that inventory.  I need campaigns measured and integrated all the time so I can normalize. We need ‘provable ROI’ for guaranteeing sales. I don't care about age and sex.”


What will be the TVOT focus next year? According to Swedlow, “virtual reality, emerging television and the new consumer platforms coming out.” And then she added, “As well as sticking to the same topics as this year’s conference.” Some issues are eternal.

12 comments about "TV Of Tomorrow: Changing Ad Models, Provable ROI".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, December 9, 2015 at 10:01 a.m.

    Interesting report, Charlene. While I agree that it is important to measure TV/video "viewing" on all "platforms" it is also dangerous to equate the resulting "audience" data as if the viewing experience---and impact----is always the same. What's desperately needed is not just "data" but validation of said data so programmers and advertisers can make ralistic comparisons---or discount some of these audiences as being less attentive or engaged. Sadly, the emphasis is all on getting "data" but no one seems concerned about its comparability---hence, its relevance.

  2. Charlene Weisler from Writer, Media Consultant:, December 9, 2015 at 10:43 a.m.

    I agree, Ed. I wonder though if it would be possible to attain a standard acceptable measurement for attention and engagement across platforms?

  3. dorothy higgins from Mediabrands WW, December 9, 2015 at 1:30 p.m.

    And that pesky viewability issue  

  4. Charlene Weisler from Writer, Media Consultant:, December 9, 2015 at 2:14 p.m.

    More of a digital challenge although attention to TV is also an issue.

  5. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, December 9, 2015 at 4:11 p.m.

    I believe that it is possible to develop a fair and comparable set of engagement metrics across platforms, Charlene. Most likely, these would ask the audience to subjectively rate its attentiveness on some scale and then compare this with content recall measures of both programming and ads. I don't think that purely electronic indicators---like time on screen, for example---are sufficient.

  6. John Grono from GAP Research, December 10, 2015 at 2:44 a.m.

    Sage as always Ed.

    There is another issue at play, and that is the incremental cost to 'count the crumbs' of audience.

    An example is the 'out-and-about' TV audience.   Here in Australia we have The Melbourne Cup (a.k.a. 'the race that stops the nation').   It is one of the richest horse races in the world and is run on the first Tuesday of November at 3pm.    Being a nation that loves a punt, it is a public holiday in Victoria (the state it is run in) and many businesses run a skeleton staff while the rest are down the pub having lunch, a beer and a bet.

    Now we COULD try and design samples that capture and enumarate this audience for a race that runs for around three and a half minutes.   But the cost would far outweight the commercial benefit.   There are probably a dozen sporting events a year that would substantially benefit from measurement but as the market understands the issue they use 'rules of thumb' to factor that in ... and every year the race is sold out.

    The point is that not everything the should be measured can be - and not everything that is measured should be.

  7. Mark Eberra from ONE BILLION LIVE Inc., December 10, 2015 at 12:13 p.m.

    "Howard Shimmel, research officer at Turner Broadcasting, threw down a gauntlet to business-as-usual by saying,.. ”We need to measure audiences..... We need ‘provable ROI’ for guaranteeing sales" Charlene, for the record, l was the first in the world to "throw down the gauntlet for guaranteed sales for every product advertised on television". There was some spirited debate here on MediaPost with our colleague Ed Papazian l believe taking the position our own proprietary GSI, or Guaranteed Sales Increase algorithm was all but a pipedream. And it is true the broadcast television industry has completely ignored the topic to date. So it's very refreshing to see a "Broadcast researcher like "Shimmel" at least acknowledge the need. Perhaps 2016, will truly be the year the revolution will be televised!

  8. Leonard Zachary from T___n__, December 10, 2015 at 2:49 p.m.

    Nielsen polling numbers are yesterday's Buggy Whips. Real time analytics are here, why are Legacy TV execs running away????

  9. John Grono from GAP Research, December 10, 2015 at 5:41 p.m.

    Simple one Leonard, and thanks for the Dorothy Dixer.

    Real time TV data is household tuning data.   ANY media buyer worth a pinch of salt would never buy on that basis.

    There is a place for HH tuning in calibrating TV ratings, but it is an INPUT into TV Ratings and not an OUTPUT.

  10. Charlene Weisler from Writer, Media Consultant: replied, December 21, 2015 at 12:39 p.m.

    Hi Mark, We can only hope! Happy holdiays to all.

  11. Doug Garnett from Protonik, LLC, December 21, 2015 at 5:48 p.m.

    Coming from the original world where "provable ROI from TV" is critical (DRTV), I think that term is tremendous over-statement.

    We CAN do tremendously accurate estimates of TV ROI in the right circumstances even when the purchase is driven to retail. However, that's not the same as a broad calculation of TV ROI. 

    All of the audience and audience engagement metrics are highly valuable - but they do not prove ROI. ROI proof only comes when we mix how well the TV medium performed with how well the advertising performed. In those cases where the advertising is near-term focused and drives some type of "response", then we can get relatively good at estimating near-term ROI.

    But, most TV ads don't have goals that lead to immediate response - they have mid-term or longer term goals. For those ads, ROI is never provable - it's always based on measuring, estimating, modelling, hunches and guesses, reliance on past secondary research, and finally an educated human judgement.

    What I wish for the TV business would be that we would make judgement calls based on a solid undergirding of reality. Mostly I see two extremes. Many make judgement calls based on instinct and without a solid base of fact. At the other extreme, far too many isolate on the narrow range of data that's most provable available and conclude that there's nothing else - and also jump to conclusions that are inaccurate.

  12. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, December 22, 2015 at 7:43 a.m.

    I agree, Doug. As I have also pointed out in many posts, branding advertisers keep seeking simplistic ways to define and measure ROI but consistently fail to come up with such indicators because ROI is a function of many interacting variables and cummulative effects, not simply the response---it it can even be measured---of a single ad exposure.

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