Commentary

Action-Based Metrics In TV Measurement: Q&A With TVSquared's Calum Smeaton

“TV measurement has gotten a lot more sophisticated, moving from reach/frequency to performance-based metrics,” stated Calum Smeaton, CEO and Founder of TVSquared. His company was started in 2012, to move the measurement needle by making “TV a performance-marketing channel – one that could be measured and optimized quickly and easily, just like digital.” 

To do that, TVSquared’s platform, ADvantage, “combines real-time spot, response and audience data to give advertisers the who, what, when and where of spot and campaign performance for linear and advanced TV.” 

Charlene Weisler: What do you see as the state of TV measurement today?

Calum Smeaton: Brands were the first to embrace performance analytics for TV. They’re accustomed to the real-time measurement and optimization of digital, so applying it to TV was natural for them. 

Today, most TV advertisers know exactly what aspects of campaigns are working and not (creatives, programs, networks, genres, days, times, etc.), and then use those insights to optimize for response. Agencies were the next to adopt performance-based measurement, recognizing that it’s a crucial component to establish trust and transparency with clients. And while networks were the last holdouts, they are growing fast. There’s a real shift with how they are embracing analytics for proof of performance, tying TV to business outcomes. 

Weisler: What metrics are most important? Which ones have outlived their utility? Why?

Smeaton: Brands use TV for different reasons, so there will never be one-size-fits-all metrics. Performance metrics used for TV should align to the specific KPIs of a brand, whether it’s driving sales, registrations, web traffic, app activity, you name it. 

I don’t want to say that ratings, reach and frequency metrics have outlived their utility, because that would imply they ever told advertisers much of anything. If a brand uses TV for awareness alone, then these metrics can make sense, but for those that use TV for response, they are not as relevant.  

Weisler: What new metrics should TV be using?

Smeaton: Brand-specific, performance-based KPIs. TV drives second-screening viewers directly into the digital funnel. Measuring immediate actions like online sales, app activity, registrations, etc., is a quick-and-easy process. Even for higher consideration brands, when the end result doesn’t happen right away, these metrics are often action- or intent-based because measuring middle-of-the-funnel activities is an excellent indication of TV performance. 

We’re also seeing networks such as multichannel video programming distributors (and local/national broadcasters start to offer this type of tailored, brand-specific measurement to advertisers as proof of performance, which is a real game-changer in the space. 

Weisler: Tell me about your recent partnership with TiVo.

Smeaton: We measure the immediate and long-term performance of linear and advanced TV by day, daypart, network, program, genre, creative and audience segment. With the addition of TiVo’s deterministic viewership data, we can analyze TV’s impact down to the household (HH_ level, too. 

Deterministic attribution is a hot topic, which makes sense, so understanding TV’s effectiveness at the HH level is invaluable. As an emerging space, deterministic has value, but also limitations, including fragmentation, small datasets and privacy/security concerns.

 A purely deterministic attribution model can’t measure the true TV-driven uplift in response and sales. But adding a layer of HH/impression-level data with a high match rate (like TiVo’s), an advertiser can get deeper insights into the “who” behind that response. 

Weisler: How will connected TV impact the TV marketplace? 

Smeaton: Connected TV, advanced TV, whatever you want to call it, is just TV. Our platform measures “TV” whether it’s on linear, OTT, VOD, etc. While advanced TV is still in its infancy, we’re seeing advertisers start to experiment with different platforms. By “experiment,” I mean they are doing a lot of testing and learning, and even taking insights from measuring linear and applying them to advanced TV as a starting point.

1 comment about "Action-Based Metrics In TV Measurement: Q&A With TVSquared's Calum Smeaton".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, June 6, 2019 at 7:51 p.m.

    Charlene, of course, this is not about "TV", meaning "linear TV", but about direct response"TV"--- mainly using digital platforms. Also, it's not true that "TV" advertisers are only out for awareness. That's nonsense. Most branding campaigns are trying to motivate consumers to prefer and buy their brand---except, they do not attempt to determine the sales results of every commercial viewing for every consumer reached as this is not possible. Despite this almost every TV brand tracks its sales results overall and in more detail---like regions----they simply do not --and can not--do this preson by person.

    As regards GRPs and reach and frequency, CPMs, etc. these are not useless tools as they tell the advertiser how much exposure is being attained, at what frequency and cost. Used realistically---by discounting the inherent overstating of ad audiences by the audience measurement services--- these are important numerical benchmarks which allow advertisers to evaluate the performance of their campaigns.

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