Currency Update: CTV Verification Initiative

For the last year, iSpot and GroupM have been working in partnership on an extensive research initiative to bring insights about CTV ad delivery to market. We set out to determine what percentage of CTV ad impressions are delivered and not-delivered to the TV screen across publishers and platforms, on a campaign basis.

Our analysis uncovered a wealth of unprecedented insights and a framework for verifying CTV advertising in an exploding streaming marketplace. We’re excited to share the topline findings from these efforts together with GroupM. And, we look forward to collaborating with industry leaders including VIZIO, Disney, LG Ads Solutions, Paramount, Fox/Tubi, and NBCU, who have committed to working at an industry level with agencies, advertisers, and standards-setting bodies to create a streamlined measurement framework to ensure ads are only counted when delivered to screens that are on, with people in front of them. 

In conjunction with this study, iSpot has developed a new product, CTV Verification. We will provide more details as the product moves out of beta and into our suite of currency products. 

Below is a press release from our partners at GroupM on this important endeavor.

iSpot and GroupM will not be making the granular results of the study public at this time. If you’d like to learn more about this initiative, please reach out to your customer success representative or contact us here


Advertising Industry Unites to Create New Standards in Streaming Viewability and Connected TV Measurement

GroupM & iSpot quantifies CTV impression overcounts for first time; Phase One study estimates streaming impressions that continue to play when TV is shut off

 New York, NY (June 13, 2022) — GroupM, WPP’s media investment group, has partnered with media companies across the advertising industry to create new standards in streaming viewability and CTV measurement. The initiative follows a joint study with TV ad measurement company iSpot that quantifies inflated CTV ad delivery counts and reveals that, on average, 8-10% of streaming impressions play when the TV is shut off, primarily through ancillary devices. 

Companies including VIZIO, Disney, LG Ads Solutions, Paramount, Fox/Tubi, and NBCU have committed to working at an industry level with agencies, advertisers, and standards-setting bodies to create a streamlined measurement framework and set of best practices to ensure ads are only counted when delivered to screens that are on, with people in front of them. 

The effort follows GroupM’s focus last year in pushing for greater implementation of “Are You Still Watching” end cards to help address potential inflated audience counts. That initiative was widely adopted by publishers and platforms – but does not fully solve the issue. 

“The explosion of streaming is rich with opportunity to deliver smarter ad experiences, across a wide variety of possible channels. With any technological advancements, it’s our job to close the gaps so all avenues of ad delivery are verified,” said Kirk McDonald, Chief Executive Officer, GroupM North America. “As responsible investment stewards of our clients’ media spend, this verification illuminates both the issue and the opportunity for our industry. Regardless of the medium, if an ad is running, we want and should be able to attribute, measure, and report that an ad was served and seen.”

“This approach to verifying CTV allows us to quantify a complex problem in a comprehensive way, yet more importantly provides insights and a pathway for solving an important issue for the industry,” said Sean Muller, CEO of iSpot.tv.

STUDY FINDINGS: The Phase One study found that:

  • On average, 8-10% of overall streaming impressions were delivered when the TV was shut off. 
  • 17% of impressions delivered only through CTV streaming devices such as dongles, gaming consoles, and sticks were delivered when the TV was shut off. Gaming consoles generally had lower rates of continuous play than dongles and sticks.
  • Native Smart TV Apps—which account for about 50% of all CTV viewing—had virtually no incidence of overcounts across streaming ad delivery.
  • Depending on the configuration among the three components—TV make and model, streaming device and publisher app—the CTV impression overcount by publisher ranged from 2.5% to 15% across all CTV streaming activity.

“One of the most important findings was that there are dramatic variances in rates of continuous play, driven by the combination of TV set model, streaming device, and publisher app being used,” said Adam Gerber, Executive Director, Investment Strategy for GroupM U.S. “This is one of many measurement challenges facing the industry as consumption continues to fragment across device, time and location. These realities make a unified industry initiative to set standards and measurement solutions that much more urgent. It is part of a larger need to ensure that measurement accurately reflects the number of people who have the opportunity to see an ad.” 

“Along with the growth of CTV and its tremendous opportunities – comes new challenges – challenges in measurement, attribution, currency, and privacy-enhancing personalization. IAB and IAB Tech Lab have been at the forefront of the unique challenges of the CTV space across publishers, platforms, apps and OEMs,” said David Cohen, CEO of IAB. “Trust, transparency, and accountability are foundational to the continued responsible growth of CTV. Timed for Q3 2022 IAB Tech Lab will release Open Measurement SDK for CTV which will enable the industry to facilitate third-party viewability and verification measurement. It will also deliver a ‘set off’ signal and algorithmic assessment around the likelihood that a person is in the room viewing. We commend GroupM and others who look to quantify industry opportunities such as this one and look forward to continued education, best practice sharing, and technical standards to address these areas. Our Video Leadership Summit happening in just a few short weeks will tackle these issues head-on.”

iSpot, with input from GroupM and other industry participants, has developed a first-of-its-kind measurement offering that is built on top of its Unified Measurement product. The beta product – iSpot CTV Verification – measures continuous play incidence at the campaign level. GroupM will have exclusive access for a period of time as the product completes testing and development, at which point it will be available to the marketplace.

Methodology

GroupM and iSpot evaluated hundreds of millions of aggregate and anonymized CTV impressions delivered across 20 million opt-in VIZIO Smart TVs, various platforms and publishers between January 1 and June 30, 2021. The analysis was restricted to ad buying through programmatic channels, using a single Smart TV manufacturer’s automatic content recognition data as the underlying match. iSpot verifies CTV impressions using various factors, including input source and its own proprietary system for verifying ad and content play directly on TVs..

The study was conducted to obtain top-level insights about a complex technology problem and to develop methodologies for establishing benchmarks the buy and sell-side can transact on with confidence. The full extent of the findings, including performance metrics for platforms, publishers and specific devices, will be shared privately with respective companies for the purposes of exploring methods for solving technical issues and agreeing to standards suitable for each unique platform.

GroupM and iSpot are partnering to run ongoing measurement in Phase Two of the study with an expanded data set.

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About GroupM

GroupM is the world’s leading media investment company responsible for more than $50B in annual media investment through agencies Mindshare, Wavemaker, EssenceMediacom and mSix&Partners. GroupM’s portfolio includes Data & Technology (Choreograph), Investment, and GroupM Nexus, all united in the vision to shape the next era of media where advertising works better for people. By leveraging all the benefits of scale, the company innovates, differentiates, and generates sustained value for our clients wherever they do business. Discover more about GroupM at groupm.com.

Quotes for attribution:

Mike Sallette, Vice President, Media Connections, Danone North America: “We recognize the media marketplace is dynamic and increasingly complex – requiring ongoing innovation to how we measure delivery and performance. This initial study helps marketers understand the effectiveness of certain channels and where there is opportunity to help ensure that our advertising investments drive the highest return.”

Mike O’Donnell, Chief Revenue and Strategy Officer, VIZIO “VIZIOs integrated hardware, software, and ACR data technology enable us to deliver verifiable audiences and power innovation in measurement. It’s great to see our currency grade data utilized to help improve transparency and to reaffirm the value proposition of direct-to-device advertising.”

Mark Rotblat, CRO of Tubi, a streaming service of FOX: “Efforts around continuous play represent efforts to continuously improve the connected TV advertising marketplace, and we are in full support. Tubi and FOX have been researching and taking steps to improve this along with our device partners, and we were excited when we learned about GroupM and iSpot’s approach. We have committed to working in partnership, as this will take all parties from TV OEMs to connected devices, to apps, measurement services, and buyers, in order to most effectively understand and address the occurrence of continuous play.”

John Halley, COO, Advertising, Paramount: “These CTV findings highlight device-level limitations. This industry effort goes beyond solutions like ‘Are You Still Watching,’ which is effective but imprecise, and moves us to better device-level awareness, which is a necessity to maintain the integrity of all premium video products.”

Aaron Sobol, Head of U.S. Media Investments and Partnerships, Unilever: “This CTV study between GroupM and iSpot is another example of the importance of independent third-party measurement in the industry. The validation that impressions are being counted while the TV is off is vital to understand and needs to be fixed. We support and applaud our partner in GroupM for their dedication and rigor to develop this critical learning.”

Warner Bros. Discovery: “We want both our world-class content and our advertisers’ messages to be seen, measured and properly counted,” said Jon Steinlauf, Chief U.S. Advertising Sales Officer, Warner Bros. Discovery. “By addressing continuous play with a solution our entire industry can get behind, GroupM propels greater trust, transparency, and accountability in the CTV space, and that benefits everyone in this ecosystem.”