Virtual Data Bites, Volume 2

Speed vs. Accuracy in Cross-Channel Measurement

Cross-channel measurement is a new frontier for those in ad tech. It’s like the wild west, an unknown territory with vacant areas waiting to be explored. The players — good, bad and ugly — are entering into a showdown for the fastest and most accurate measurement of audiences across screens. Our second edition of Virtual Data Bites, a VideoAmp thought leadership series, uncovers the challenges of speed versus accuracy for cross-channel measurement, and the idea that advertisers are unable to have both — at least not today.

The rise of streaming ushered in new ways of watching video, especially for TV. In 2020, the shift from linear to connected TV viewing increased as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. While fragmentation is not new, cross-channel measurement is nascent. Advertisers and publishers have an imperative to focus on cross-channel planning and measurement to reach consumers at scale, given that primetime is now anytime, across any device. Today, a holistic approach to TV planning, activation and measurement is required given that linear TV alone no longer garners the reach it once did.

The current solutions in the marketplace claim the ability to perform in-flight optimization and fast, accurate measurement. But in reality, these two things are measured in very different ways and don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand. The types of data and processes required are very different depending on the needs of a particular campaign. Fast data usually has less nuance, while more precise data usually takes a bit more time to gather. Advertisers need to vet partners and ultimately make decisions based on their campaign goals, while seriously considering that speed and accuracy are two divergent dimensions of any optimization or measurement solution. So, what’s the reality of data latency in TV measurement today?

  • Online video and in-app video provide the fastest data, but they rely on cookie IDs and mobile IDs for targeting and measurement. With the cookie crumbling and changes like opt-in now for consumers, the number of opted-in mobile IDs is decreasing. Latency will be introduced into the process as companies look to model data and take more probabilistic approaches to targeting.
  • CTV is the fastest growing segment of TV because of its high quality inventory, premium ad experience and addressability, since it relies on CTV IDs and IPs for targeting. When a consumer watches an ad, you can receive near real time feedback, typically within 2-6 hours after an ad airs. However, it’s not real time from an ID perspective, so using an ID partner which allows you to map IPs to audiences introduces latency into the process.
  • Linear TV still has the largest share of audience, but the data comes in at different times depending on the source. ACR or Smart TV data typically comes sooner than MVPD STB data, but there are caveats. ACR data relies on a derived schedule that attempts to recognize airings that occur on the glass and determine whether they are national or local. ACR also provides partial household viewership and tends to bias toward the main room TV. Meanwhile, STB data captures holistic viewership of the household across multiple cable boxes and TVs. STB data is powerful because it captures exactly what aired during a time period, which is great for measurement and tying audiences back to content viewed. The caveat here is that reporting can be delayed when dealing with multiple data sources.

In essence, there are use cases for both quick and accurate measurement scenarios. Advertisers should determine if speed or accuracy is more important based on their specific campaign objectives and timelines for optimization. For example, you can utilize insights derived from ACR data to make in-flight optimizations, or you can wait a week for a highly accurate picture of cross-channel performance utilizing VideoAmp’s commingled TV dataset.

While speed and accuracy must both be taken into account when planning campaigns, cross-channel activation and measurement are now a very real possibility — and getting faster each day. Advertisers should choose a partner that is thoughtful, transparent, educates, and has a vision for solving the new frontier of holistic measurement.

If you’re interested in learning more, contact hello@videoamp.com.