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A lot has been written about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the world of advertising. Budgets were decimated and marketers scrambled to find other ways to do more with less.
One of the less talked about themes, however, has been how the pandemic served as a major blow to linear TV consumption and as a boon to Connected TV (CTV). There are tons of stats that support this sea-change – 80% of US households now own at least one connected TV (CTV) device, and Nielsen has tracked an 81% YoY increase in CTV viewing time while linear has fallen off. Some TV networks are now even starting to prioritize their content for streaming ahead of linear TV in a nod to the new normal of user behavior.
And at this year’s virtual Upfronts, the TV advertising industry at large seemed to finally acknowledge what we’ve all noticed for some time now: streaming is no longer simply a place to park old content, it’s how and where people watch TV now.
So with the mass exodus of viewers mostly complete and the realization that CTV finally has the scale to be one of the most important advertising channels, advertisers are left wondering: how do we measure it?
The do’s and don’ts of connected TV measurement
Before we address how to approach CTV measurement, it’s best to first address how not to approach it.
Any approach that measures CTV in a similar way to linear TV is already misguided. Linear TV measurement is inherently abstract due to the limitations of broadcast TV. All of the impressive technology in the world of linear TV measurement is deployed to enable statistical modeling, not to deliver precise analytics. That methodology ultimately delivers what amounts to a best guess.
CTV, on the other hand, is simply digital programmatic advertising but with a TV commercial as an ad unit instead of a banner ad. And its measurement functions much in the same way – it’s not saddled with linear TV’s limitations, but rather uses digital measurement that offers precision over guesstimates.
As with any other digital marketing channel, marketers have expectations when it comes to measurement. It should give a view into the whole customer journey, it should track conversions, and it should be accountable in 3rd party analytics solutions – and CTV delivers on those needs.
How proper connected TV measurement works
A clear edge CTV has over linear TV is its inherent precision. It unlocks a level of insight that allows advertisers to run ads and know exactly how many people saw them – all the way down to the last digit. CTV also gives advertisers insight into completion rates, providing an exact understanding of how many people saw the ad from start to finish, and how many dropped out. While this is a step up from the world of linear TV advertising, it’s table stakes for CTV platforms.
Performance marketers expect more. Just like with other performance marketing channels, such as paid search and social, performance marketers want a full view into the customer journey to truly understand the impact of their CTV campaigns. That’s why at SteelHouse, our most meaningful CTV measurement kicks in after the ad is shown. Using our cross-device Verified Visits technology, we monitor traffic to the advertiser’s website after a CTV ad is shown. It’s able to identify other devices visiting the site from the same household that saw the ad – allowing us to determine site visits driven by that ad impression.
We continue to monitor the advertiser’s site to see if the users that originated from the CTV campaign eventually convert, delivering a holy grail to direct-response TV advertisers – a way of attributing purchases to the TV ads they run – while delivering an ad measurement experience familiar to all performance marketers.
CTV’s cross-device measurement has helped prove its effectiveness as a direct-response performance channel. Case in point, a leading fine wine & spirits retailer who ran CTV campaigns with SteelHouse was able to effectively track the customer journey thanks to cross-device Verified Visits. It provided insight into who saw their ads on television, and the actions those viewers took afterward.
The campaign proved to be a success, driving a 1.09% site visit rate, as well as 1.37% conversion rate. Cross-device measurement allowed the advertiser to truly understand the value their campaign brought them – that’s not something linear TV advertisers will ever be able to do.
Proper attribution requires third-party insights
Performance marketers find value in having their campaign data funneled into their 3rd party analytics or campaign management solution of choice. It allows them to understand the performance of their marketing efforts across disparate channels. Unfortunately, this is an area where other CTV platforms can fall short – they tend to rely on siloed measurement only available through their platform.
By reporting user visits from CTV campaigns into an analytics solution like Google Analytics, SteelHouse enables performance marketers to analyze their TV campaign performance in a familiar way. Through this integration, our performance marketing clients regularly make the realization that CTV campaigns on our platform – what we call Performance TV – routinely perform as well (if not better) than other traditional performance marketing channels.
Pick the right way to evaluate connected TV
When evaluating CTV solutions, remind yourself that CTV is simply programmatic advertising. As a performance marketer, you should expect CTV to be just as accountable, efficient, and reliable as any other performance marketing channel. And if a platform can’t deliver on any of those capabilities when running a CTV campaign, find one that can.
The global market for customer data platforms is expected to rise dramatically over the next few years. The CDP Institute pegged industry revenue for 2019 at $1 billion and it expects the sector to reach at least $1.3 billion in 2020. Meanwhile, ResearchandMarkets predicts the industry will grow from $2. billion in 2020 to $10.3 billion by 2025, expanding at an astounding compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 34.0% during the forecast period.
This growth is being driven by the proliferation of devices and customer touchpoints, higher expectations for marketers to orchestrate real-time personalized experiences across channels and the need to navigate complex privacy regulations. Let’s explore each of these factors in greater detail.
More devices, fragmented interactions and high expectations
Gartner predicted that the average U.S. adult would own more than six smart devices by 2020, and Cisco forecasts that the number of devices connected to IP networks globally will expand to more than three times the global population by 2023. There will be 3.6 networked devices per capita (29.3 billion overall) by 2023, says Cisco, up from 2. networked devices per capita (18. billion overall) in 2018.
Customers and potential customers are using all of these devices — several in a day, often — to interact with the companies they do business with, and they expect these brands to recognize them no matter what device they’re using at any given time.
According to a Salesforce State of the Connected Customer survey conducted April 2019, 78% of respondents prefer to use different channels to communicate with brands depending on context, but 6% expect companies’ engagements with them to be tailored based on past interactions.
This challenge isn’t going to go away anytime soon. Segmenting Salesforce’s customer data by generations reveals that younger cohorts switch devices more than older, and they’re also more likely to be adding IoT-type connected devices to their repertoire.
Meanwhile, customer data security and governance have leapt to the forefront of marketer concerns, as the alphabet soup of data regulations — from HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability) to HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health) to GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) and CASL (Canada Anti-Spam Legislation) — continues to grow.
Enter the Customer Data Platform, a system designed for non-IT use to streamline the flow of customer data throughout the martech stack and create a single view of the customer. High expectations, along with the proliferation of possible customer touchpoints, make cross-device IDs and identity resolution — the ability to consolidate and normalize disparate sets of data collected across multiple touchpoints into an individual profile that represents the customer or prospect — critical for helping marketers, sales and service professionals deliver the ideal total customer experience. CDPs offer this consolidation and normalization and also make the data profiles freely available to other systems.
Additionally, CDP vendors seek to help marketers address the privacy challenge by providing strong data governance protocols that are certified by third-party organizations to ensure compliance with these types of regulations, as well as other data security standards. For example, many CDP vendors are SOC (Service Organization Control), SSAE (Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements) and/or ISO (International Standards Organization) certified. These audits confirm best practices around internal processes, data management, data privacy and security.