A lot has been written about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the world of advertising. Budgets were decimated and marketers scrambled to find other ways to do more with less.
One of the less talked about themes, however, has been how the pandemic served as a major blow to linear TV consumption and as a boon to Connected TV (CTV). There are tons of stats that support this sea-change – 80% of US households now own at least one connected TV (CTV) device, and Nielsen has tracked an 81% YoY increase in CTV viewing time while linear has fallen off. Some TV networks are now even starting to prioritize their content for streaming ahead of linear TV in a nod to the new normal of user behavior.
And at this year’s virtual Upfronts, the TV advertising industry at large seemed to finally acknowledge what we’ve all noticed for some time now: streaming is no longer simply a place to park old content, it’s how and where people watch TV now.
So with the mass exodus of viewers mostly complete and the realization that CTV finally has the scale to be one of the most important advertising channels, advertisers are left wondering: how do we measure it?
The do’s and don’ts of connected TV measurement
Before we address how to approach CTV measurement, it’s best to first address how not to approach it.
Any approach that measures CTV in a similar way to linear TV is already misguided. Linear TV measurement is inherently abstract due to the limitations of broadcast TV. All of the impressive technology in the world of linear TV measurement is deployed to enable statistical modeling, not to deliver precise analytics. That methodology ultimately delivers what amounts to a best guess.
CTV, on the other hand, is simply digital programmatic advertising but with a TV commercial as an ad unit instead of a banner ad. And its measurement functions much in the same way – it’s not saddled with linear TV’s limitations, but rather uses digital measurement that offers precision over guesstimates.
As with any other digital marketing channel, marketers have expectations when it comes to measurement. It should give a view into the whole customer journey, it should track conversions, and it should be accountable in 3rd party analytics solutions – and CTV delivers on those needs.
How proper connected TV measurement works
A clear edge CTV has over linear TV is its inherent precision. It unlocks a level of insight that allows advertisers to run ads and know exactly how many people saw them – all the way down to the last digit. CTV also gives advertisers insight into completion rates, providing an exact understanding of how many people saw the ad from start to finish, and how many dropped out. While this is a step up from the world of linear TV advertising, it’s table stakes for CTV platforms.
Performance marketers expect more. Just like with other performance marketing channels, such as paid search and social, performance marketers want a full view into the customer journey to truly understand the impact of their CTV campaigns. That’s why at SteelHouse, our most meaningful CTV measurement kicks in after the ad is shown. Using our cross-device Verified Visits technology, we monitor traffic to the advertiser’s website after a CTV ad is shown. It’s able to identify other devices visiting the site from the same household that saw the ad – allowing us to determine site visits driven by that ad impression.
We continue to monitor the advertiser’s site to see if the users that originated from the CTV campaign eventually convert, delivering a holy grail to direct-response TV advertisers – a way of attributing purchases to the TV ads they run – while delivering an ad measurement experience familiar to all performance marketers.
Proper measurement reveals CTV campaign’s true impact
CTV’s cross-device measurement has helped prove its effectiveness as a direct-response performance channel. Case in point, a leading fine wine & spirits retailer who ran CTV campaigns with SteelHouse was able to effectively track the customer journey thanks to cross-device Verified Visits. It provided insight into who saw their ads on television, and the actions those viewers took afterward.
The campaign proved to be a success, driving a 1.09% site visit rate, as well as 1.37% conversion rate. Cross-device measurement allowed the advertiser to truly understand the value their campaign brought them – that’s not something linear TV advertisers will ever be able to do.
Proper attribution requires third-party insights
Performance marketers find value in having their campaign data funneled into their 3rd party analytics or campaign management solution of choice. It allows them to understand the performance of their marketing efforts across disparate channels. Unfortunately, this is an area where other CTV platforms can fall short – they tend to rely on siloed measurement only available through their platform.
By reporting user visits from CTV campaigns into an analytics solution like Google Analytics, SteelHouse enables performance marketers to analyze their TV campaign performance in a familiar way. Through this integration, our performance marketing clients regularly make the realization that CTV campaigns on our platform – what we call Performance TV – routinely perform as well (if not better) than other traditional performance marketing channels.
Pick the right way to evaluate connected TV
When evaluating CTV solutions, remind yourself that CTV is simply programmatic advertising. As a performance marketer, you should expect CTV to be just as accountable, efficient, and reliable as any other performance marketing channel. And if a platform can’t deliver on any of those capabilities when running a CTV campaign, find one that can.