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Don’t Wait For Data-Driven TV Standardization
The ability to leverage both third and first party data to better target our TV buys has led to ROI improvements of twice the traditional buys. And while those results are outstanding, the truth is that we’re still a long way from realizing the full potential of data-driven TV.

The issue? There are too many disparate data sets across the various media companies that offer data-driven TV, meaning advertisers have to constantly recreate and redefine the audiences they want to target.

Because there is no standardization across the industry, the reality is that the term “data-driven TV” is a gross oversimplification. And the lack of standardization can create a lack of transparency. While one media company uses Acxiom data, another uses Experian. Another is using Nielsen, ComScoreTV— not to mention all of the different audience modeling methodologies.

When we say “data-driven” TV, what data are we even talking about?

That’s the problem. And the lack of seamless technical integration among these partners makes the process manual and clunky. We have to re-create the same targets multiple times and send them through multiple tech partners before we can leverage them. This results in a lot of inconsistency, from the target audience definition to the planning tools, to buy guarantees and measurement of performance.

And the inconsistency is enough to make some brands avoid the confusion by passing on data-driven TV altogether. But three major networks have decided to offer a unified audience, which could finally solve for the industry’s lack of standardization.

All Eyes on OpenAP

Fox, Turner and Viacom have launched OpenAP, a web-based platform that allows marketers to choose data sets and create ad-targeting criteria, which can be used for numerous TV buys. The goal is to make it easier for advertisers to deliver their ads to a specific audience.

They plan to use set-top box data from comScore along with Nielsen ratings and consumer information. Advertisers will be able to log into OpenAP, upload their specific targeting data, cross-reference with other third-party data and assemble a custom audience. Those data sets will eventually be verified by Accenture.

Imagine the potential of its success. Advertisers will be able to target a very niche audience, from expecting mothers to first-time home buyers, or video gamers across a wider selection of networks while leveraging the same data sets and following a single workflow.

OpenAP’s success could signal the end of this data-driven difficulty. We’ll have to wait and see, but there’s reason to be optimistic with NBCU and Univision recently announcing that they will both join. For now, until there’s industry standardization, marketers must leverage all types of data available or risk losing pivotal insights into their audiences and better returns on their TV dollars.

Test and Learn in the Meantime

The reality is that there’s no guarantee OpenAP succeeds and that companies can’t wait to see if it does. To avoid missing out on valuable insight and performance in the meantime, marketers should be willing to fight through the clunkiness and redundancy. Marketers must test and learn across the multiple datasets (micro-markets, we’re calling them) and platforms today to be ready to capitalize on the opportunity when data-driven TV is ready for primetime.

These “micro-markets” of different datasets are all we have. It’s the only way until there’s standardization. Think of it as the search engine race back in the mid-2000s. No one knew Google would go on to dominate the search engine space, so companies had to strategize for Yahoo, Bing and Google alike.

Data-driven TV can eventually offer the transparency of a traditional TV schedule and the targeted and measurable benefits of digital media. But be cautious about waiting for that standardization. Your competition may not.