TV Attribution Providers' Data 'Highly Inconsistent': CIMM, 4As Study

TV attribution results can be all over the place due to inconsistent data inputs, says a study issued by the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement with the 4A’s Media Measurement Task Force.

“Methodology, rather than technology, is [the] root cause of TV attribution outcome differences,” according to the study, which was conducted by Sequent Partners and Janus Strategy & Insights.

Eleven leading TV attribution providers — which were not named in the study — were found to have highly inconsistent occurrences and exposure data. Research says the accuracy of spot detection and all exposure data elements — gross rating points (GRPs), reach, frequency — differ from provider to provider. 

In addition, the report says, brand-lift outcomes are not consistent among providers because of the differences in both occurrence and exposure data. Also, methodology of converting data into final ad occurrence and exposure data — including weighting, editing and other data-processing rules — is believed to be the cause of the differences between providers.



The report calls for standardization, such as commercial IDs similar to Ad-ID, for identifying occurrences and in defining exposure and reach.

"While the findings of our study do not necessarily tell us how to solve for the attribution inconsistencies our industry currently faces, they do clearly indicate the need for the standardization," states Alice K. Sylvester, partner, Sequent Partners. 

Sylvester says this pertains to naming, definitions, and categorization and quality assurance procedures.

“This report provides a roadmap for providers to improve their offerings and at the same time reduce the dramatic differences between providers,” says Howard Shimmel, president of Janus Strategy & Insights.

The paper — titled “Getting Attribution Right: An Exploration and Best Practices for Television Data Inputs in Attribution Modeling” — was presented as part of The ARF’s AudiencexScience virtual event.

7 comments about "TV Attribution Providers' Data 'Highly Inconsistent': CIMM, 4As Study".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, September 23, 2020 at 3:09 p.m.

    Very interesting. Another issue---and a very big one---is the fact that the attribution models are attempting to trace the effects of ad "exposures" using device usage---not viewing---as their primary audience base. This creates a huge and variable error margin---depending on what demos and other definitions of consumer targets are being used---that is almost certain to muddle up efforts to interpret results in a consistent manner. You are not going to be able to correlate sales with ad "exposure" patterns or reach and frequency configurations to say nothing of cross platform evaluations when you are 40-60% off whenever you assume that a particular consumer "saw" your message. Same goes for frequency. Your device usage data may tell you that a home "saw" your message six times but, in reality the consumer watched it only twice. Consumers buy products ---not devices.

  2. John Grono from GAP Research, September 23, 2020 at 6:25 p.m.

    Thank you Wayne for the article - very illuminating.

    I find that the approach to measuring Advertising Effectiveness is very silo-based.   Marketing (when done properly) is a very broad discipline involving all sorts of media (and non-media channels), business strategies, creativity, competitor awareness, consumer insights in tandem with marketing intuition ... and a plethora of other factors.

    Each and every marketing issue or opportunity has it's own unique solution.   Trying to find it in attribution modelling is risky and expensive.   There are no short cuts.   It's hard yakka which is incongruous with quick fixes.

  3. Joseph Gray from DRMetrix, October 1, 2020 at 12:48 p.m.

    Recently wrote a study about the importance of TV attribution, especially during a major marketplace distribution such as Covid-19.  Specific to linear cable TV attribution, companies that have it figured out were at a significant advantage.  Many using faulty TV attribution methodologies were forced to cut back on TV spend in 2020 as they could not determine the effectiveness of their advertising. That said, other advertisers, with better TV attribution methodology, were up hundreds of times over their 2019 spends.  If you'd like to learn more, here's a link to the study.

  4. John Grono from GAP Research, October 1, 2020 at 4:36 p.m.

    Joseph, what do yoe mean by 'hundreds of times'.   Please elucidate.

  5. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, October 1, 2020 at 5:11 p.m.

    John, here's a link to the study. I checked it out on their website. It's about DTC advertisers and is focused mainly on spending:

  6. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, October 1, 2020 at 5:13 p.m.

    I see that the link doesn't work but the article in featured along with two others on their home page---you can't miss it.

  7. John Grono from GAP Research, October 1, 2020 at 6:31 p.m.

    Thanks Ed.

    Joseph, I still can't find the data to support "other advertisers, with better TV attribution methodology, were up hundreds of times over their 2019 spends."

    The biggest ad-spend increase I could see was Mirror in Weeks 1-10 at 1267.2% - meaning it was up 12.672x.   In fact only one other advertiser was up by more than 10x - Idealvillage Products in Weeks 11-19 at 1116.2% which was up 11.162x

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