TV Measurement is a ‘Hot Mess’

There was a sense of normalcy at the upfronts, which wrapped up earlier this week, as content once again took centerstage following two years of tumultuous programming sales that loomed with uncertainty given the pandemic and Hollywood strikes

TV measurement, on the other hand, was declared “a hot mess” by eMarketer analyst Evelyn Mitchell-Wolf during a recent "Meet the Analyst" eMarketer webinar. She was joined by Attain CEO Brian Mandelbaum to discuss the path forward. 

“The next era of measurement will be cross-media,” said Mitchell-Wolf. It’s this shift to cross-media that’s primarily responsible for upending TV’s traditionally stalwart currency and measurement methodology, and further complicated by cookie deprecation.

Here, we share several key takeaways from the discussion. 

Panels Need an Update

Legacy TV and panel measurement have been around since the 1950s, which have relied on largely unchanged methodologies. In recent years, limitations such as unrepresentative consumer samples and lack of cross-screen measurement have created increasing friction between publishers and media buyers. This led the Media Rating Council, or MRC (an industry-funded organization that accredits audience measurement standards), to rescind Nielsen’s accreditation and encourage new types of alternative TV currency. 

Yet, there are inherent benefits to panels that aren’t guaranteed with big data sets that alternative currencies use, such as access to holistic, longitudinal data, as well as methodological rigor. 

Brian Mandelbaum, CEO of Attain, believes there is a middle path that uses the best of both worlds. “Panels are cool again, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t in need of modernization,” said Mandelbaum. “Attain, for example, is the largest first-party, opted-in, fully consented panel with 7 million consumers sharing real time purchase data, in addition to all the demography and information that you get from a legacy solution.” 

“We’re surfacing sales in real-time, which is the outcome that a marketer truly wants to uncover,” he added. “Our job is to work with the alternative providers, the legacy providers, or directly with the brands and the content distributors.”

Signal Loss is the Biggest Threat to CTV 

Although connected TV (CTV) does not technically operate off of cookie-based identifiers, they are still dependent on them for cross-device measurement and targeting. For instance, an IP address from a CTV gets tied to the device’s cookie that ultimately makes a purchase. Cookie deprecation will break many of these connections, making sales measurement more difficult. Retail media networks, meanwhile, will take the opportunity to create more motes and walled gardens using CTV, said Mandelbaum. 

Walmart’s recent acquisition of Vizio is a prime example. Media buyers can buy CTV placements through Walmart Connect, but they’ll only have insight into purchases made at Walmart by consumers who own a Vizio TV. This siloed view of purchases also only allows for attribution, not incremental sales, Mandelbaum points out. 

To diversify outside of walled gardens, marketers can seek out first-party data owners who have access to consented and persistent first-party identifiers like email address, the holy grail when it comes to CTV identification. 

Watch the recording of the webinar here

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