Total Video Ratings: NOT The Solution For Cross-Screen Measurement

It used to be that marketers used the excuse of not having a single rating across all screens as a reason not to invest much in digital advertising.

That excuse was valid. Marketers knew exactly what they were getting from one screen (TV), but had little clue what other screens were delivering in terms of reach or impact.

Digital “gurus” ridiculed those hesitant marketers as dinosaurs, saying they were stupid not to see the great opportunity of digital. And consumers learned that sharing cat videos and trolling were fun pastimes and signed up for digital platforms in large numbers. Brave marketers like Burger King (subservient chicken) and Evian (dancing baby) joined in and were celebrated as visionary advertisers miles ahead of the pack.

As digital grew to become an all-pervasive platform, marketers jumped in with both feet — not, funnily enough, because they now had the multiscreen rating they had asked for only seven or so years ago. No, the reasoning was driven by the lure of “cheap” reach versus “expensive” reach in other media. Plus, there was (and to a degree still is) a significant degree of digital advertising FOMO.



Fast-forward another five years, and marketers have now come to realize that cheap digital reach comes with significant downsides, like huge amounts of waste (between 40% and 60% of each dollar, depending on which data you believe) while annoying consumers to the point that they install ad blockers to escape the digital advertising onslaught (over 20% globally now).

Marketers are now going through the process of the great digital clean-up, forcing the all-powerful digital platforms and their quick-buck agency middlemen to rethink their business. According to a media auditing firm presentation I saw the other day, the days of calling fraudulent digital advertising “collateral damage” are over.
So you’d think that this would be the time to resurrect the multiscreen rating debate, right? Not so fast!

Despite having come full circle — from questioning the wisdom of digital investments to plowing enormous amounts of money blindly, to now again questioning the wisdom of those ever-growing investments — there’s still no robust debate about the outcomes of digital advertising.

The media world has always been extremely good at optimizing the outputs of campaigns. They were optimized against cost per 1000, cost per GRP, reach, frequency, frequency distribution and so on. Multimedia modeling and marketing mix modeling both benefited from being fed large quantities of mostly TV data.

Digital media also claimed legitimacy on the same types of output measurements like cost per click, cost of total reach, click through rates, or even — gasp — cost per like or share.

Of course, none of these metrics matter when there are no results. And we must ask ourselves, would a TVR (total video rating) provide the transparency and clarity marketers are seeking? The answer is “probably not.” Attribution — that is, the science of allocating cause and effect to an activity relative to the cost of that activity — seems far more promising.

Which means that the TVR has gone from excuse to obsolete in a mere 15 years, and it did so without ever existing!

3 comments about "Total Video Ratings: NOT The Solution For Cross-Screen Measurement".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, January 26, 2018 at 12:21 p.m.

    Maarten, I tend to agree with you. Much too often we confuse the media buying function and its audience metrics with advertising impact, which is a big mistake. Even in the case of "audience" we are stymied when trying to compare digital page views or time-on-screen data with the supposed commercial minute "viewing" information that we get for national TV. In fact, neither tells us very much about whether an ad was seen, noted or paid any attention to. All we are really getting is data telling us that an ad was on a screen---that's all.

    As for "attribution" ---assuming that this can be measured accurately in the first place-----we are usually talking about a relatively small part of the advertiser'stotal  TV/video effort---the digital portion----and, in many cases, the advertiser is not evaluating media on a placement by placement basis hoping to determine exactly what sales result each "exposure" delivered. Most ad campaigns develop their impact cummulatively over time, not stop and go every time an ad is "exposed". This clouds the issue if one is trying to single out the specific effect of every placement. Untill better models are created---and verified---that take the total impact and build-up of ad campaigns into account, including the fact that many people who are exposed to an ad on one TV show have also seen it on other TV shows, as well as in other media---plus how often and how long ago----- attribution may not provide the definitive answers we are looking for.

  2. dorothy higgins from Mediabrands WW, January 26, 2018 at 1:36 p.m.

    Attribution is beset with its own issues as we need to assess impact along a continuum of “purchase cycle” behaviors. One of the reasons we can parse attribution for TV relatively easily is lots of data over time, plus geographic dispersion knowledge. My bugaboo with how we implement digital is we buy “nationally” yet don’t know where the impressions are being delivered unless we are prescriptive and this drives up the cost, mitigating against that “cheap reach.”  Moreover, the FB audience I buy one month for my video may vary geographically from the one I buy next month depending upon how the views aggregate.  So what is my point? My point is we need something akin to a Total Video Rating with real, measurable and accountable unduplicated impressions so we can predict scope and scale as an additional for input into attribution modeling. How many people do I need to reach how many times on each vehicle or channel and how does that aggregate to produce the more efficient ROI against a variety of KPIs? So, yeah, we need to get that measurement thing nailed,

  3. Kevin Killion from Stone House Systems, Inc., February 1, 2018 at 12:45 p.m.

    The most important digital medium is television, which in the U.S. converted to digital in 2009.

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