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Navigating Today’s Video Landscape

For decades, the local and national linear television space have predominately transacted against a single source of truth: Nielsen. Nielsen TV ratings are an audience measurement system used to determine both audience size and composition of programming. Media companies and advertisers agree on a traditional demographic, such as Adults 25-54, and use that demo as the standard currency for their media buys. This offers a guarantee from media providers that a certain number of people within this categorization could view your brand’s commercial. With ever-changing technology over the years, Nielsen has tried to evolve their measurement capabilities and refine the way they determine their ratings. A few competitors have tried to enter the landscape, but none could break through the monopoly of Nielsen, the “industry standard.”

Long-standing tensions have arisen between Nielsen and media companies about the accuracy of their ratings. In 2021, this conflict came to a head, when Nielsen lost their Media Rating Council (MRC) Accreditation for both local and national advertising. The MRC is a non-profit organization that manages accreditation for media research and ratings companies. Around the same time, a rise in streaming services and smart TVs in homes radically changed the media landscape and how we consume media. Networks saw a decline in ratings as viewers began ‘cutting the cords’ and shifting their viewership across new platforms and devices. Many broadcast and cable networks reacted to this by launching their own streaming services, which further caused a drop in overall linear viewership. Networks also responded to this diversification of ratings by requiring or encouraging the use of broad demos for guarantees on linear, shifting from, for example, a traditional Adults 25-54 guarantee to Adults 25+. This allows publishers to capitalize on every viewer and safeguards overall delivery on linear buys. For the first time, data collection by measurement services on linear began mirroring digital buys , making it more accurate and applicable to guide marketer’s dollars – a much better tool than a Nielsen diary sample of ~40k people. This gave marketers and vendors greater access into consumer insights and behaviors from the “big-screen” than ever before, and more refined currencies.

Demystifying Data Driven Linear

With more data available due to Smart TV tracking technology, such as Automatic Content Recognition, or ACR, a cultural shift happened which embraced the idea of linear TV behaving more similarly to digital buys and providing more advanced measurement techniques. This helped fuel data-driven linear video, also known as DDL. DDL combines traditional demo-based delivery with additional data sources (for example: purchase data) to deliver audience-based advertising. Although still relatively new, DDL buys have gained substantial traction in recent years. In the 2022 Upfront, it was reported that upwards of 49% of brands were testing new currencies, replacing Nielsen with guarantees on specific Audiences. Brands can build custom audiences using 1st party and/or 3rd party data, access detailed insights about these audiences and strategize their media plans to reach them without sacrificing scale or overall reach. Additionally, brands can now collect performance data about their linear campaigns – something that was only available in the past with pricey addressable buys. This data allows marketers to optimize their video buys to measure specific business outcomes like store/website traffic. DDL combines the mass-reach of linear television with more refined targeting capabilities and brand attributions.

Is Addressable TV still relevant?

The question becomes, does addressable TV advertising still have a place with these advancements in data-driven linear? The answer is that it depends. For brands seeking a highly targeted approach, addressable buys can deliver a more one-to-one ad delivery with relevancy given that audience insights are tied directly to a user’s IP address and/or set-top box. This aligns linear video closer to the targeting to that of OTT and digital content. It is reported that almost 2/3 of advertisers are currently including some forms of addressable on their media plans.

In general, combining an addressable and DDL strategy offers brands a well-rounded strategic approach to engaging an audience that is more qualified than traditional execution audiences, such as Adults 25-54. DDL drives reach and targetability at a national scale with a lower cost of entry, and addressable ultimately saves brands money by reducing overall waste. By only paying for your intended audience, the effective cost-per-viewer (or eCPM) can be LOWER than a traditional linear demo CPM. These tools allow advertisers to analyze performance and optimize future campaigns more effectively than ever before.

Validating Effectiveness

The question every marketer should ask is whether their ad spend is working or not to accomplish an objective. Empower has made a commitment to partner with companies leading the way in this space and being on the forefront of this evolving landscape. Through this commitment, we’ve seen a steady transformation of our client’s approach to video.
Below are a few current offerings across the industry to consider:

  • Disney + Samba TV: Partnership allows for advertisers buying Disney inventory to access Samba’s True Reach and Frequency (TRF) measurement
  • NBCU + iSpot: NBCU conducted the “largest” industry measurement test and chose iSpot as their certified partner to create a new currency for cross-platform measurement
  • Paramount + VideoAmp: Paramount leveraged VideoAmp’s comingled data (ACR+STB Data) to guarantee linear transactions on age/gender demo while also using their data to create and guarantee delivery against advanced audience segments
  • Warner Bros. Discovery: Testing across partners like iSpot, VideoAmp and ComScore, with the understanding that a single partner cannot accomplish all goals.
  • ComScore: Launched a new product ComScore Total Digital, part of its Insight Studio suite. The offering combines digital, CTV and social media measurement.

The Future is Here

As media experts in a rapidly changing world of technology and capabilities, it is our responsibility to inform and adapt. Brands need to understand the advancements in the video space and be able to assess the alternatives to buying traditional demos on legacy currencies to better evaluate the best approach for their business objectives.

Empower, also known as the Un-Holding company, is a midwestern-based, independently held agency that has been challenging the status quo of media since 1985. We recognize in our business that the only constant is change. If you are looking to better understand the evolving video landscape, we are here to help you unlock the full potential of video in your media buys!