Skip to content

What Marketers Need to Know About CTV Measurement in 2023: A Q&A with Viant SVP of Business Development Tom Wolfe

Viant - CTV Measurement - Blog

Today’s television measurement landscape is made complicated by changing viewing habits. The days of “Must-See TV,” when viewers would gather around the television at a specific time to watch a specific show, have changed in the era of cord-cutting away from cable and the rise of streaming television.

For marketers, streaming brings new opportunities to reach and measure their ad campaigns — even if accurate measurement of streaming is still developing.

To shed light on the current and future state of CTV measurement, we sat down with veteran in the TV space, Viant SVP of Business Development Tom Wolfe.

Q: Before we dive into measurement, let’s talk about the general landscape of CTV in 2023. Ad spend is down across the board, but CTV spend is up. Can you discuss why the channel is still seeing growth?

Marketers are smart enough to follow the consumers. According to eMarketer, US CTV usage has increased from 195.9MM in 2019 to 230.1MM today, comprising a majority (67.8%) of the US population … with room to grow. The promise of coupling the upper-funnel strengths of TV (sight, sound, motion, emotion) with the mid- and bottom-funnel strengths of digital advertising (1:1 targeting, attribution metrics, etc.) holds intriguing possibilities.  

Q: What is the state of CTV measurement today?

Complicated. Nielsen, the only TV measurement provider accredited by the Media Ratings Council, remains firmly entrenched as the TV ad measurement currency. Linear TV (that is, “TV delivered over a broadcast signal or coaxial cable connection in a pre-programmed, non-demand fashion,” given sequential linear programming can also run over CTV) is losing viewers to internet-protocol Connected TVs, where no single measurement system exists. 

Several aspiring providers (such as iSpot, VideoAmp, TVision, etc.), as well as Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs, e.g., Roku, Samsung, et al.), are attempting to either: a) drive their capabilities and products to become the CTV ad measurement currency or b) self-measure, facing challenges such as accurate scale, effective representation, transparent methodology, privacy considerations, commonality across platforms, or singular focus on measurement.

Meanwhile, several TV programmers have banded to form OpenAP and its Joint Industry Committee (JIC) on TV measurement, which has called for deterministic impression-based measurement, with low reliance on probabilistic panels, to align with impression-based planning. Curiously, these same companies — including AMC, Fox, Paramount, and NBCU — built legacy TV businesses on probabilistic currency models (Gross Ratings Points) from Nielsen.

As cable subscriptions decrease rapidly — bringing the networks’ Nielsen Household counts down with them — they seek to capture some control of the measurement process.

Q: What do marketers want CTV measurement to look like?

That depends on which marketer you ask! As the linear budgets move to Connected TV, the legacy linear and digital buyers face an existential crisis: can we use deterministic data to measure a probabilistic consumer consumption environment? The digital buyers plan, activate and measure on a one-to-one (i.e., one-person) impression basis. But the traditional TV buyers long ago accepted — and valued — that TVs are built for viewing by multiple people at once, with no universal system for measuring which specific individuals in a household — let alone a bar, restaurant, stadium or other areas of mass gathering — are engaged.

Q: What does it take for a company to win in the CTV measurement space?

The winning currency provider will possess the experience and aptitude to accurately and efficiently forecast and measure audiences, combining multiple, rich sources of deterministic data validated by effective, representative probabilistic sources, such as an owned-and-operated panel. The company must be solely and uniquely focused on measurement, solving problems such as population representation with sound methodology. 

Q: How can people-based technology play a part in helping marketers succeed in measuring their CTV efforts?

The inventory and technology providers in the CTV ecosystem must partner with the winning currency and align on data signals (e.g., email, physical address, etc.) to ensure our client’s success and an excellent experience for the end user. Both the winning currency and a strong, people-based technology will employ multiple deterministic and probabilistic signals to associate households with the people inside them. We use this rich data to help advertisers capture users throughout the marketing funnel in compliance with privacy requirements. Complex graphs meet complex currencies to create simple measurements.

Q: Lastly, what do you see for the future of CTV measurement?

As a TV veteran in cable and streaming, I’m excited by an ecosystem focused on engaging users with exciting content, building friendly ad experiences, and figuring out how to measure where they all meet. A trusted, independent third party will win. Ultimately, we believe incumbency is a strong position from which to operate. 


Sign up to get Viant news and announcements delivered straight to your inbox.

Sign up to get Viant news and announcements delivered straight to your inbox.