In recent years, TV has suffered significant blows with a new generation of cord-cutters who are increasingly opting for streaming services and consuming content not just from the living room couch, but across smartphones, tablets, and desktop. As the TV experience is changing, one of the biggest challenges for TV advertisers is getting real measurement and attribution from their ad buys.
The traditional approach of GRPs and panel-based measurement doesn’t provide the same quality of metrics marketers have seen for years from digital channels. However, instead of viewing digital measurement as the death knell for traditional TV, the industry should be looking at this as a call for higher standards. With the rise of a new era of smart TVs and improved TV measurement metrics, digital measurement standards are becoming a reality for TV advertisers.
Advertisers are gaining new insights into their TV buys with Automatic Content Recognition technology, or ACR. TV ACR technology captures and identifies content across internet-connected devices, such as smart TVs, phones, laptops, and tablets.
This helps advertisers understand exactly which ad, channel, or program a viewer was watching, when, and for how long, allowing advertisers to more accurately target, deliver, and measure TV ads.
ACR has been around for quite some time, and you’ve probably used it before in the case of the popular music identification app Shazam. When you open the Shazam app to find out what song you’re listening to, the technology takes an audio fingerprint of the music and provides you with the song, artist, and other relevant details. ACR uses a visual fingerprint, instead of an audio fingerprint, to do the same thing across TVs.
While Shazam was one of the first use cases for ACR technology, over the years it has gained widespread use in other apps and products, with smart TV’s as one of the best examples today. Using ACR technology, smart TV manufacturers are able to create personalized viewing experiences by providing viewers with content recommendations based on the current program they’re watching, receive episode bios, and more.
While there are a lot of ACR providers in the marketplace who say they have the capabilities to do this kind of measurement, there are only a few real players who can accurately perform TV measurement with the scale and density brands need. Read more for the top questions to ask when you’re considering a TV ACR partner:
How does the provider link personal devices to household televisions?
As viewers turn their attention to streaming services and mobile apps, TV advertisers have a diverse range of ways they can reach consumers and reinforce their message. However, in order for advertisers to message TV viewers on their mobile phones or tablets after an ad has ran, ACR solution providers must link the individual viewer to their devices.
Naturally, the ACR provider’s ability to accurately reach households is highly dependent on their access to these TV manufactures. For example, some ACR providers only get data from mid-level manufacturers, meaning the advertisers who depend on those providers are limited to a pretty small slice of the total market.
Various TV manufacturers offer ACR data from mid-level manufacturers like Panasonic, Sharp, and Sony to major brands like Samsung, Vizio, and LG. These major manufacturers comprise roughly 83% of the smart TV market while mid-level manufacturers make up just 13% of the smart TV market according to IHS Inc. (2016). On top of this, just 38% of these mid-level manufacturers send ACR data to solution providers.
When looking for an ACR solution, it’s important to find a provider that has access to data from some of the major manufacturers as well as mid-level players, giving you the best scale and reach.
What is the source of the provider’s data?
ACR data can be collected directly from a smart TV, or from a combination of TV and mobile applications.
Solutions that can access data directly from a viewer’s smart TV are not only the easiest, but are also the most scalable way to capture all content passed through the television. This is done using video fingerprinting methodology, which utilizes images to identify what content is being watched and how long the viewer is watching it.
For example, a pizza franchise could deliver an ad for a coupon across a family’s personal devices after that family viewed its commercial on their TV.
The alternative, which requires both ACR-enabled TV and mobile applications working together, is much more intricate. This solution relies on audio fingerprinting, which allows the mobile device to listen to the TV to identify what is being viewed. The data collected can then be used for targeting and measurement. However, getting this data is highly dependent on users both opting in to data collection and having the ACR-enabled application running, which creates challenges in scale.
Can the solution provider measure cross device ROI in real-time?
A solution provider’s measurement capabilities are based on the amount of data that provider has access to. This can include TV viewership, online website browsing patterns, and sales, as well as offline data from partnerships with other data partners to provide purchase history, vehicle ownership, travel history, and more.
A good ACR solution provider will also present you with TV insights in real-time, not weeks or months after your campaign has ended.
The quicker you receive insights on your campaign’s performance, the quicker you can react. With access to real-time insights and tune-in results, you can immediately see tune-in and lift in penetration, allowing you to make adjustments on the y to optimize your campaign.
For example, Viant worked with one advertiser who ran a national TV and digital advertising campaign. Using Viant’s TV ACR solution, we helped the luxury retailer measure TV ad effectiveness alongside their cross device digital campaign. Throughout the campaign, the advertiser provided us with a nightly feed of their in-store sales data, which was then matched back to the brand’s existing customer profiles within Viant’s Identity Management Platform (IMP).
As a result, Viant was able to accurately measure ROAS of both the TV commercial and digital ads by connecting customers’ cross-channel ad exposure to their offline and online purchases. This kind of measurement and reporting can help advertisers optimize their campaign’s performance on the fly as well as improve planning and execution for future campaigns.
For more information on TV ACR solutions, read our Introductory Guide to TV ACR Technology.