The Shape Of TV Measurement To Come

The nature of television and viewership are morphing, but a serious lag in measurement capabilities is impeding marketers’ ability to leverage the new dynamics, says George Musi, SVP, head of analytics and insight at Optimedia.

“The pace of changing measurement is nowhere near the pace of change in TV viewership — it’s more like a snail’s pace,” Musi observed in a keynote at a recent MediaPost TV Insider Summit. “There is a critical gap in what consumers are doing versus what we understand and our ability to plan, target, measure, optimize against it. We need to close that measurement gap. Measurement has to adapt to the changing world, to account for the full spectrum of TV.”

Musi described the paradigm shift in TV and viewership, and his vision of how research needs to evolve, and called on key players to cooperate to make that happen as quickly as possible.  

Television As Redefined By Viewers
We’re experiencing media fragmentation at an unprecedented rate — cable fragmented TV, PCs fragmented cable, and mobile fragmented everything,” Musi noted. “Now further fragmentation is happening, ironically, back into TV,” with a proliferation of video-enabled devices and screens.



That in turn has caused a relationship shift with viewers, from the predictable historical “one-to-many” model in which many viewers consumed a limited pool of content (appointment-based viewing, often in groups) to a “many-to-one” model.

The traditional large television screen is now “just another screen that consumers will decide when and how to engage with,” he said. Mobile devices mean that viewing is also no longer location-bound. “You have multiple screens coming together to form an experience” — a crucial aspect of the new paradigm, he said.

All of which has resulted in what Musi called “The Age of the Customer,” in which the consumer dictates the relationship with content providers by calling the shots on what, when, where, why and how they view. Consumers may opt for primetime TV, binge viewing or streaming, choosing from a plethora of platforms and nearly limitless locations.

“Consumers now move among screens, places and moments to pursue content,” he said. “And to them, it’s all video — they don’t think about whether it’s [traditional] TV, mobile app, smart TV app or other … there are no more lines or clear definitions of where [platforms and devices] start and stop. As a consumer, it’s my choice how I define TV, by the way I choose to consume it.”

This “blurring” among consumers means that the industry, in turn, must “stop confusing the content with the device.” It must stop focusing on digital versus television, and on siloes within TV, and embrace an all-encompassing definition of video that spans all of these, Musi argued.

Amid the technological and behavioral revolutions, agencies and marketers need to remember that the end game is still the same, he pointed out. “We still need to reach the right consumers on the right platform in the right mindset with the right message, so that we can convey a message that will resonate with them to achieve a goal, which is always sales.”

To do that, “we need to change the way we think about video, and what it means to consumers and to us,” he continued. “We need to fuse our thinking so as to bridge traditional and emerging TV and its component parts, and then bridge that with the platforms we consider to be ‘traditional’ digital video. For instance, I don’t consider OTT to be digital; I consider OTT to be part of TV, and all of TV to be video.”

In short, the industry needs to take “a total video approach and move to system convergence,” he said. “Then we can deal with the complexity of video and solve for the maze of total video.”

Currently, walled gardens and siloes abound because agencies, clients, ad tech firms and measurement companies fear that change will disrupt business models. “We haven’t figured out the right business model to optimize the value of audiences and content [within the new paradigm], and the only way to do that is to think differently,” Musi summed up.

How Measurement Needs To Evolve
To gain the consumer understanding that will enable adapting marketing to the new paradigm, the industry must also develop reliable measurement capable of spanning the full video spectrum, across all devices and platforms — even emerging modes like in-car and on-refrigerator viewing, Musi said.

“We need to evolve a hybrid measurement approach,” he stressed. “One versus the other isn’t going to work. We need panels to be able calibrate, and we need them large enough to calibrate against everything that we can possibly do. Census is critical to provide the depth needed to reliably measure and project out what we think is going to happen.”

Age and gender demographics will continue to be fundamental to any segmentation, but will clearly cease being the end-all be-all; and reach and frequency will continue to be core metrics because marketers will always need to control for repetition and reinforcement, Musi said.

But metrics “need to account for more of what’s happening — we need a framework in order for us to get a deeper and broader understanding of the consumer decision trail and campaign effectiveness,” he added.

This should start, Musi believes, by focusing on the “see, think and do” dynamic that is part of the classic Hierarchy of Communication Effects underlying effective advertising. “But I would also like to see it evolve further, to account for exposure, response, engagement, perception and outcome,” he said.

Engagement and attention-plus-engagement will be particularly important components, although “exactly how we define and gauge those consistently across devices and platforms will be an interesting challenge.”

He also outlined other key components needed for measurement’s evolution:

Data and a connected view “In order to tease out our target audience, it’s extremely important to have the right data sources integrated and connected. We need to be able to do this holistically and also translate it back to each platform or device, so that we understand the potential of each by itself and its relationship to all other devices.”

The core enabler for this will be “the connected view,” meaning some version of a device graph or identifier that connects all of the devices. “It’s critical to be able to bridge all of these platforms, so as to be able to leverage data fully, and properly value what each piece of the total video pie brings to the relationship,” Musi said. “It’s is going to be extremely difficult if we don’t have something that allows for connecting these tissues.”

The right balance between reach and accuracy  The new measurement system will need to use a combination of probabilistic and deterministic data reflecting a determination of the right balance between scale and accuracy, said Musi. “I’m not sure if we’ll come to a consensus on what that right balance is [in all circumstances]; I think it will differ based on the vertical, the campaign, and the level of risk that people want to take,” he said.

A combination of analytical capabilities 
“To fully extract the value of our data, we’ll have to go through a three- or four-step process that will tell us the what, the why, the ‘so what’ and the ‘what next’ — the implications, recommendations, hypotheses that will get us through what we know because of history, and what we know in the present, to guide us for the future,” Musi said. Analytical capabilities needed will include descriptive and diagnostic tools to understand what happened, and predictive and prescriptive tools to forecast and enable taking action.

Integrated marketing response modeling
  “Our ability to get to integrated response models is also key,” said Musi. “How we evolve to account for multiple definitions of video will be critical, in order to value each one and create the right relationship. That must be based on what the data tell us, not on what we think.”

Top-down, macro decisions informed by marketing model mixes, and bottom-up, micro decisions informed by digital attribution modeling, will need to be combined in the right way to improve marketing optimization.

A Call For Action
“Viewers have extended TV’s reach across today’s full range of video-viewing devices and conduits, increasing TV’s utility,” Musi summed up.

So, once the industry has reliable hybrid measurement in place, “we’ll see that TV viewership has not gone down — that TV viewership defined in all of these ways has actually increased significantly,” he predicts. “In fact, we’ll see that even big-screen viewership has gone up.”

While an evolutionary process will be required, “it’s in the interests of agencies and their clients to force the adaptation of measurement,” he asserted. “We need to put aside differing and conflicting perspectives and get the players in tech, data and analytics to create some level of commonality, so that we can plan, measure and optimize effectively. Because there is massive opportunity out there, but there’s also a lot more scrutiny of dollar allocation now.”

4 comments about "The Shape Of TV Measurement To Come".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, December 9, 2016 at 3:35 p.m.

    Some good points by George, Karlene. However, up to now the "audience" researchers have allowed theie panel members or respondents to define what "viewing" is and there is no way, at present. that we know how to measure "viewing" for TV on a minute by minute basis---especially for commercials. As for other platforms or methods of accessing TV/video content, all we have now and for the forseeable future, is device usage, with no facility to determine if anyone is "viewing" and, in many cases, who that person---or persons---might be. Until these basic issues are recognized and "the industry" stops racing ahead of itself trying to have everything---down to the decimal point---" measured "---we are getting no where.

  2. John Grono from GAP Research, December 12, 2016 at 4:02 p.m.

    Agreed Ed.

    And people forget that 'television' really took off in the US in th 1950s (when household penetration passed 50% in 195), but electronic measurement didn't start until more than 30 years later in 1987 (and it would have been even later if AGB hadn't tried to break into the US market).

    It's a similar pattern in Australia.   TV launched in 1956 -  PeopleMeters 1991.

  3. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, December 12, 2016 at 5:08 p.m.

    Actually, John, the folks at Nielsen saw no great improvement in the peoplemeter concept but were forced into replicating the AGB system by the agencies who were pushing for an "electronic" solution for problems associated with diary-based audience composition data. 

  4. Doug Garnett from Protonik, LLC replied, December 12, 2016 at 6:46 p.m.

    Good points all around. "Demands for measurement" most often drain the innovation from a system. TV is working realistically quite well. These demands for measurement generally come from tech demanding that TV add the same (failed) measurement schemes that have failed to make various digital advertising options any more effective.

    Seems like we'd risk giving up tremendous advantages in order to get a limited measurement of little value.

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