Tracking global progress in TV attribution and measurement

Tracking global progress in TV attribution and measurement

TVSquared’s Marlene Grimm looks at three mature TV markets – the US, Australia and the UK – and explains what marketers need to know when investing ad budgets on a global scale

Accurate and consistent attribution and measurement are necessities for TV advertisers. That was the clear message from the panel, How TV can drive activation harder, and get the credit for it, at Mediatel Events’ Future of TV Advertising (FTVA) Global last December.

As the new decade approached, the industry was ready to prioritise performance, transparency and outcomes. Six months on, we’ve been more than a little distracted by COVID-19… So where is attribution (TV’s impact on business outcomes) and measurement (the number of households, impressions, eyeballs, etc. that saw an ad) now?

Since March, we’ve seen global ad budgets tighten as brands decided where to allocate spend during a time when return on investment had never been more important.

Throughout all of this, we’ve also seen direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands in particular – the digital natives used to granular data and analytics – flocking to TV to take advantage of increased viewership and lower inventory costs. These DTCs expect real-time proof of performance to get the best from their investment.

The global pandemic has accelerated the evolution of TV as an effective and measurable performance channel. As we start to look beyond the immediate impact of COVID-19, what do marketers need to know as they consider investing ad budgets on a global scale?

The US

Arguably, as the most advanced TV market, the US is making significant advances in attribution and measurement. It’s a highly complex ecosystem with a TV industry split between national and local level broadcasters and a plethora of streaming publishers and options (and that’s putting it simply).

What might be a surprise to some is that local TV, an easily accessible stalwart of trust among consumers, has led the way in moving the industry forward. Last year, local TV broadcasters committed to a major transition away from ratings towards an impression-based media currency, enabling cross-platform selling and allowing local TV to become a highly accountable channel. 

And while impressions have been used by national broadcasters for a while, it was the incorporation of performance that set local apart.

Advertisers need TV to drive action (especially in the current climate), so understanding effectiveness is crucial. That’s why local has championed the era of impressions plus performance.

Beyond linear, the US has more streaming options than anywhere else (with new publishers launching seemingly overnight). And because they have access to many different TV platforms, advertisers are testing and learning to find the right video mix.

It’s about finding that combination of reach with linear and reach extension and frequency with OTT platforms.

This year attribution and measurement in the US will be about getting the right balance between who saw ad spots and what they did next.


Australia is a mature market, and streaming services such as broadcaster video-on-demand (BVOD) are prominent.

COVID-19 has boosted viewing figures across all types of TV, with primetime linear TV viewership up more than 8% and BVOD up 26% compared with pre-lockdown consumption. This leaves a clear opportunity for brands to gain share of voice while there is little ad clutter in the BVOD market.

Ad spend is expected to bounce back in Australia next year with more than 25% growth, and TV inventory across all platforms will be in high-demand.

Even though BVOD can be bought on an impression basis providing insight at household and device level, the missing piece is the attribution that proves how TV ads are driving response. A new total TV reporting standard known as Virtual Australia  (VOZ) has been delayed due to COVID-19, but when it arrives, it claims it will deliver all-screen, cross-platform viewership measurement. But even this won’t provide vital response insight.

There are challenges around where performance measurement should sit within the ecosystem and how to connect the data, but there are opportunities to join the dots. For example, impressions served on a connected TV can be linked with a resulting purchase made on a smartphone using IP data.

The UK

TV remains the most trusted and impactful way for brands to engage audiences in the UK. Research suggests viewers will rely on advertisers, through their TV ads, to show them how they can safely enjoy brands as they emerge from lockdown.

When it comes to measurement for those ads, traditionally the UK’s TV audience measurement currency is delivered by BARB, which combines panel data with device-based data for online viewing. Through Project Dovetail, BARB currently provides multiple-screen programme audience figures, as well as reach and time spent viewing figures, and is working to release BVOD performance data next year.

In the addressable TV space, Sky is leading the way with its comprehensive AdSmart service, and media companies and broadcasters such as Virgin Media and Channel 4 have joined forces with Sky to expand the addressable audience.

Across the board, performance measurement is largely restricted to correlating search and web traffic trends when a TV spot airs in the UK. It doesn’t currently provide a clear view into performance and cost-effectiveness across addressable or linear TV. This is a missing piece of the puzzle and a key focus for British media owners.

But tools are available for advertisers to address the issue of measuring their ad spend and reach against business KPIs to prove value and gain insight into to what works and what doesn’t.

Measuring the future

With effective TV attribution and measurement enabling brands to finally understand the customer journey and measure the efficacy of TV, media owners and networks are expected to accelerate their own offerings to retain and grow ad revenue.

In a world where TV is about branding, performance and reach extension in equal measures, advertisers must be able to quantify the impact of buys. KPIs need to be customisable per brand, and an understanding of how buys are working comparatively must be shown via a performance index that generates actionable insights to optimise buys and inform media planning.

No matter the market, brands must be able to consistently measure TV advertising efforts across all platforms and devices, understand regional nuances and optimise their campaigns.

Marlene Grimm is head of customer success, international at TVSquared

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