The rise of the multiscreen phenomenon for video viewing started in earnest with Netflix and Hulu, but has been inexorably driven forward by pay-TV operators and broadcasters—their TV Everywhere initiatives have been popular and have succeeded in increased availability of digital video viewing across the board. It’s no wonder that marketers and media companies are looking for ways to take a cross-platform approach to audience engagement—but so far the concern over cannibalizing existing media channels has persisted.
However, there’s evidence that broadcast and cable networks can actually experience net revenue gains as these changes unfold, given the right advertising approach. In fact, a cross-platform approach to monetization is rapidly becoming an imperative for an industry in the throes of massive behavioral changes.
Right now, video viewing is a complex and fragmented environment, in which complementary activities (and at times conflicting activities) are taking place across multiple screens. Distraction is a concern for advertisers—if someone is watching a show and then tweeting about that show during linear commercials, how can they capture that screen shift to make the most of their engagement efforts? This has made accounting for viewing behavior orders of magnitude more difficult than it ever has been in the past.
“In 2006, around the dawn of YouTube and online video in general, I said, while TV is not extinct, the upfront as we knew it has come to an end, yielding the birth, this year, of a true video upfront, which will adapt and transform because consumers say so,” explained John Muszynski, chief investment officer at media buyer Spark. “Here we are eight years later, and I find myself uttering the exact same words. The biggest difference being, of course, that the consumer has evolved significantly since the early days of online video. Today, traditional TV viewing is down marginally, while we are seeing across-the-board gains in time-shifted, online, mobile and over-the-top video viewing. But the measurement systems have not yet caught up.”
So how can the industry facilitate smarter buying and selling of advertising, to get to a truly integrated approach to the issue with the viewer at the center?
The Total Video Approach
comScore, the online measurement guru, argues in a new report that adopting a viewer-centric approach that aligns with the way advertisers want to buy and content owners want to sell advertising is imperative rather than a choice.
comScorelaid out the goal : “As this happens, all video content can be accounted for and used as a basis of transaction according to quality of the inventory and the unduplicated audience reached – not merely on the basis of the individual device on which it is consumed.”
It’s easier said than done, but comScore has unveiled the Total Video methodology for measuring video that accounts for viewing audiences on multiple platforms.
The firm advocates leveraging the panel-based approach of legacy TV measurement systems, but in combination with advanced digital measurement methods – including the combination of large scale panel-based systems with census-level data from millions of TV set-top boxes, Web and app tagging, etc. Taking this information together can deliver a comprehensive and unified accounting of video viewing audiences when paired with a Big Data analytical engine that can slice and dice the numbers.
More specifically, the Total Video approach centers on five core guiding principles or best practices. The first aspect of the is a unified metric, to demonstrate the full size of a media company’s audience and plan across media platforms; including the ability to deliver unified metrics for reach, frequency and GRPs. Similarly, the No. 2 point is that media planners plan against demographics today, and need to be able to do this for all video viewing across platforms going forward. And related to that, as the No. 3 tenet, measurement must be inclusive of all video that is consumed – including OTT viewing – whenever and wherever it is consumed, since this represents monetizable inventory.
In theNo. 4 point, comScore points out that the approach must be scalable to an increasing number of platforms and have the granularity to report meaningful audiences for content from larger media companies and for niche audiences covering long-tail content providers. This scalability must be predicated on census-level data assets incorporated into the methodology, because panels alone cannot reach the level of required reporting detail, comScore explained.
And finally, as a fifth principle, dynamic ad insertion will become a norm as this market begins to look more like today’s highly targetable digital advertising environment. The future of ad measurement is also evolving rapidly to tie video exposure more directly to in-store sales performance, according to the firm.
Taken together, the Total Video approach means more opportunities for media companies to deliver and monetize content and improved ability for advertisers to efficiently and effectively reach their target audiences. But, reaping these gains will depend on taking concrete steps tied to these best practices of course.
“comScore’s Total Video approach is a positive step in the right direction in the quest for where video measurement needs to go and has the foundation of the right technological and methodological infrastructure to make it a reality,” said Muszynski. “Making this measurement system a reality requires the collective efforts of the mediaindustry with folks on both sides of the table playing a role and agreeing on commonground. We must all demand that measurement begins with putting the consumer – notthe platform – at the center of the approach. But we must also recognize that solving all of these measurement challenges is not easy, and so we must look for progress rather than perfection. It is also important that those who wish to see this measurement system unfoldbe willing to support its advancement through strategic investments and a willingness toexperiment. And finally, we must also be mindful of quantifying the impact and ROI of theseinvestments to support the continued shift of budgets towards digital platforms.”
The measurement giants are putting some skin in the game, notably Nielsen, which has adopted specific multiscreen metrics, such as reach, to help advertisers better gauge campaign effectiveness. The hope is to roll out a true multiplatform product sometime this year.
The firm explained that reach is important for the simple reason that advertisers must reach desired audiences to have an impact. And reaching one incremental person may be more valuable than reaching someone a second time. For a multi-screen campaign with 70 percent TV reach and 30 percent online reach, the ideal would be to deliver 100 percent unduplicated reach — meaning online would be entirely incremental to TV.
Duplication is also critical. “Duplication can be important if advertisers know that exposure to advertising on one platform drives better advertising performance on the other platform — which is usually the case,” Nielsen said. “So, for a multi-screen campaign with 70 percent TV reach and 30 percent online reach, the ideal would be to have all 30 percent of your online campaign reach overlap or duplicate TV — meaning the total reach would be 70 percent, with 30 points of duplication.”
There has been some movement to operationalize some of these concepts: advertising specialist YuMe recently launched a multiplatform “Reach Calculator” tool that computes unduplicated reach across TV, online, smartphone, tablet and connected TV, and serves as a directional tool for marketers to use while developing their multiscreen video plan.
"We're responding to our clients' requests for more insight into why they should shift dollars from TV to digital and, more importantly, how much and the impact of doing so on brand metrics," said Ed Haslam, senior vice president of marketing at YuMe. "This is the first time we have built a tool based on research that media agencies can use in their offices to do multiscreen video planning."
The study that spurred the calculator was carried out with Nielsen and was comprised of two different studies – an online media survey and an in-person media lab. The results include findings for advertisers around US connected device ownership and how to more accurately plan reaching their target audience across digital video screens.
"This research and accompanying Reach Calculator gives us a tangible resource to bring to the clients now," said David Klein, group planning director for Assembly, a media planning company. "I think we know the concept of adding a new media channel to our mix, but having the ability to break it out between the different channels and screens is important to us."
The online multiscreen reach survey showed that the average household has 4.4 devices; and smartphones and tablets are nearly as popular as computers. Meanwhile, 87 percent of consumers use devices while the TV is on.
The multi-device media lab portion, held at CBS' Television City, tested each respondent's experience while looking at a series of ad-powered comedy sketches on smartphone, tablet, computer and over-the-top (OTT) devices. Results showed two major findings: the biggest incremental gains in engagement were achieved when three or more devices were brought into the mix; and emerging OTT devices, such as Roku, continue to provide a positive halo effect.
Meanwhile, to better understand exactly how consumers watched the 2014 Winter Games across TV, online and mobile, NBCUniversal participated in an exclusive pilot using the Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings for mobile measurement and Nielsen’s proprietary software development kit (SDK).
To determine consumer exposure to advertising across all NBC Olympics channels, watching on one screen or multiple, NBCUniversal tapped Nielsen Cross-Platform Campaign Ratings, which combines Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings reporting with TV ratings to deliver unduplicated and incremental reach, frequency and gross rating point (GRP) measures by age and gender for TV and digital advertising. The pilot looked at five national ad campaigns that ran heavily across platforms.
“We’re living in a cross-platform world. Whether you’re 45, living in Boise and watching on your big screen or a 19-year-old tuning in from your smartphone at a Starbucks in Atlanta, we need to be able to capture your ad exposure,” said Megan Clarken, executive vice president and global product leader at Nielsen. "This pilot with NBCUniversal is proof that it’s possible, and offers a preview of the cross-platform measurement capabilities that will be available to the marketplace this year."
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