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Why Ad-Centric TV Measurement Is the Future

With all the new TV currency conversations and announcements percolating in 2022, iSpot was honored to be the first alternate currency provider NBCU brought forth after a massive and historic due diligence to rewrite the way TV is bought, sold and measured. We are also pleased with the results of pilots with WarnerMedia and Paramount and of course are in discussions with many more that are seriously considering a new pathway forward that includes multiple currencies and approaches to buying and selling. Sorting through the points of differentiation can be difficult. There are a lot of claims out there and only a handful of measurement providers actually release data to the market consistently.

But beyond calling for the measurement industry to be more forthcoming with what they provide, how they get their data and what other forms of businesses they engage in, we think it will be helpful to lay out why our ads-first approach to measurement continues to gain broad adoption by brands, major platforms and networks. 

The Great Decoupling

Let’s start with the obvious issue facing brands and networks: Ads are not going to always travel with the same program. This is already the case with streaming. If the ads do not travel with the programs, then the programs can no longer be used as proxy — the old system of telling brands a show probably got X audience so it likely got X people to view an ad. Never mind channel-changing and skipping ahead, which gets lost completely. 

Brands can and should get second-by-second readings for every moment they buy, and the only way to do that is by measuring each ad as a “free agent,” so no matter how it’s delivered, it gets counted.

Precise Ad Measurement Gives Confidence

Advertisers simply do not value ad delivery as much when it is measured by proxy to the program. Verified and exact ad ratings will increase the confidence of brands and garner more dollars for the TV industry. The added transparency enables better business-outcomes conversion measurement for TV, a deeper understanding around tune-in rates and creative performance — and, in the end, much stronger ROAS calculations. 

The measurement miscounting that prompted headlines in 2021 also accelerated the problem. Networks realize they are leaving money and value on the table with underreporting of audiences and the impact they deliver, and ultimately the ability to segment audiences is diminished.

Better Targeting and De-Duplicated Audience Verification

When ads are measured independently, then the ability to sell ads against multiple audiences opens up in a big way. For example, imagine Pizza Hut buying an 18-54 audience in the exact same slot that Consumer Cellular buys 55+. Or imagine a national ad buy targeting 18-54, but filtered only for households that are in the market for a pickup truck. 

iSpot can and does provide average network and show measurement as a marker of audience engagement, reach and value for the selling of shows and the context surrounding the ads. However, the measurement and verification of ad impressions independently from programs is the only way to do consistent de-duped cross-screen measurement. 

Transparency and Independence

Measurement should not be muddled by companies also generating revenue from activation. Getting to grade your own homework may be convenient when you charge a platform fee for planning and optimization, but the reach, frequency and effectiveness of campaigns should be verified independently by clients

We have been beating a drum about more transparency for the marketplace for over nine years, because we believe that is a critical step to get the market comfortable with a new way of utilizing real-time insights. And yet, very few companies are consistently releasing data to the public so the marketplace can see for itself. 

Measurement-Grade Data, at Scale

About the proprietary technology that is required to do all this: (a) a comprehensive, 24/7 TV ad catalog, (b) real-time airings data with 99%+ accuracy, (c) smart TV ACR that detects ads independently from programming, and (d) supplemental data for honest, accurate calibration and extrapolation.

And, finally, scale — the ability to measure every second of advertising directly and all ads that cross a TV screen. 

When all of that is verified and aligned with census-level data, and all relevant demographics, households and person-level pieces are accounted for, what you have is big data that’s much more representative of actual viewership. 

What you get is a currency that doesn’t rely on consumers self-reporting their viewing and doesn’t extrapolate the behavior of a few dozen people in one Media Market to an entire city.

Speed

iSpot launched as the only real-time TV ad measurement company able to do so at scale. Delivering fast, accurate and actionable information helps brands optimize while there’s still time and budget to do so. Legacy systems that took weeks and months were making TV harder to plan alongside digital. Now that isn’t an issue.

Impact

At iSpot, we also like to talk about business and brand impact, because we have the only integrated system for measuring return on investment, creative performance and impression verification at scale.  When we verify ad viewing, we’re also calculating interruption rates, so we know how long an ad was viewed. We are benchmarking conversions, so we can show attribution and business-outcome impact, and we are measuring the emotional impact creatives have before, during and after ads air, so brands can understand the brand lift TV provides.

When networks and brands add all these pieces up, they land on iSpot. And that, in short, is why the majority of leading brands use iSpot directly to evaluate, justify and optimize TV ad spending regardless of the GRP. It’s why we are on these alternative currency short lists and why, no matter how TV is bought and sold with networks, iSpot will be a trusted, central part of the process for years to come.