Yes, traditional linear TV still has far larger reach than OTT/CTV. But the latter’s growth has been rapid and significant enough that some are beginning to argue that suggesting that their role is limited to “incremental” reach may be misleading in some cases.
“Looking at ACR data on a daily basis, we’ve started to see a trend not only to increased streaming video time-spent, but in the number of people who are only streaming, no longer watching linear,” Justin Evans, global head of analytics and insights for Samsung Ads, said during a BIA webinar on OTT held last week.
In the third quarter, fully 25% of all Samsung devices were used for streaming only — up from 21% a year ago, Evans reported.
“That puts the incremental reach conversation into a more urgent place than ever before, because in a way it’s not incremental reach — it’s now initial or primary reach,” he argued. “In the current economy, it’s an overwhelming challenge to an advertiser or agency to say, ‘You’re going to start from a scenario in this television game where 25% of the audience is unreachable through your standard tools.’ OTT has become a crucial means of reaching that quarter of the audience that is only streaming.”
Samsung’s structured incremental analyses of heavy, medium and light linear TV watchers in client campaigns have confirmed that “linear is great at reaching heavy linear viewers, and pretty good at reaching medium linear watchers, but it only reaches about 5% of light linear watchers,” Evans said. “Linear tools are lopsided toward the heavy linear watchers, where they get about 95% of the reach.”
Bottom line: “Advertisers are leaving an enormous amount of opportunity on the table in terms of customers they could be communicating with.”
Meanwhile, nearly half — 48% — of Vizio TV owners don’t have a traditional cable or satellite connection, according to Adam Gaynor, vice president network partnership, head of addressable at Vizio. “That gives us an opportunity to bring an [unduplicated] audience forward to advertisers and agencies,” he said.
Jo Kinsella, president of the cross-platform TV measurement and attribution company TVSquared, said that when TVSquared worked with Tubi to measure incremental reach for a traditional supermarket chain that’s been shifting increasingly toward a D2C model, the retailer found that 79% of households reached through the AVOD were incremental to linear. “Further, 54% of exposed audiences actually visited the retailer’s site and purchased something,” she said.
How linear and OTT work together in reach terms is critical, agreed Comscore Chief Commercial Officer Chris Wilson, but advertisers also have to be able to understand how to spend their dollars to maximize frequency.
ACR data from smart-TV manufacturers is a key component in media measurement, but it captures only part of the overall video consumption universe, he pointed out.
Comscore, which also has access to data from all of the major MVPDs, believes that “what’s most important is how the ACR data works in conjunction with MVPD data,” he said. “Because for planning and buying, advertisers need to be able to deduplicate ACR data within the MVPD footprint. There’s a percentage of consumers who only have streaming services but also still a large percentage who have both streaming services and MVPDs.”
Because households typically have multiple types and brands of devices, Comscore “also needs to be able to understand which ACR stats are from Vizio or Samsung or other [smart TV brands],” Wilson added. “With MVPD data, you have visibility into all of the TVs in the home, whereas the ACR data can be fragmented. The goal is getting all of these to work together so advertisers can understand the impact of their ads.”
Wilson also stressed that the pandemic has caused agencies to accelerate their push toward a holistic approach driven by measurement and attribution.
“A lot of agencies are rethinking business models,” he said. “It’s about how it all works together… That’s one of the reasons you’re seeing such a groundswell for using impressions, because that’s the common denominator. Advertisers want to target all video and TV audiences the way they’ve been doing in digital for years.”
Agencies are “more focused on audiences and outcomes, and the budgets are integrated," he continued. "The holding companies all want to be able to plan in a single budget, manage touchpoints across consumers and across all of their inventory types, and understand how all of these work together to have the greatest outcome. Who was exposed to the ad? Did they convert? And more important, once they’ve converted, how can I tie that back to my next plan? Again, it’s the digital mindset: How can I deploy my response model in my next plan so I can get smarter and smarter?”
Wilson believes that agencies would also prefer to be paid on performance, rather than on FTE hours worked or full-time employees. “They want to be able to show the brand: ‘This is the impact we got, therefore this is our value to you, and this is what our fee should be,’” he said. “To do that, they have to pay attention to the data and its quality and make sure that it’s helping them achieve their goals.” As a result, agency buyers do pay attention to data experts in evaluating sources and media, he said.
“The more datasets we get, the greater the collaboration across the industry, and the easier it will be for advertisers to be able to identify their incremental reach across OTT platforms and where to put the dollars,” agreed Kinsella.
She also concurred that agency buyers are integrating insights from platforms and experts to optimize media mix — with the more advanced buyers doing that on a weekly or even more frequent basis.
Overall, agencies’ focus tends to reflect their size, she said. Smaller agencies tend to be focused on testing and learning and whether a specific tactic or strategy worked and refining reach and frequency, while larger agencies tend to be more focused on using insights to better define and target audiences and “enabling conversations.”
The quest for more holistic business models has also caused something of an attitude shift at larger agencies, in Kinsella’s experience.
“We are finally seeing a real ask for help from some of the bigger guys,” she said. “They’re saying, ‘The cross-platform stuff is hard, we still try to do a lot of it in Excel, we have thousands of planners and buyers — can you help us measure this, tie it to a business outcome, identify what audiences we should be leaning into and then close the loop and help us optimize the inventory so we can drive the biggest efficiency for the brand advertiser?'”