As TV Networks Begin Upfront Sales, Is There Such A Thing As Too Much Data?

Not all data sets are built the same

A new report from TiVo reveals the ways next-gen data is being used in 2018 upfront sales. Getty
Headshot of A.J. Katz

Marketers spent nearly $72 billion on U.S. TV advertising in 2017, the vast majority of it planned and purchased based on traditional linear TV ratings.

But it’s no secret the ways in which Americans watch television have dramatically changed over the past decade. After decades of audience estimates based on a small samples of viewers, TV measurement is going through big changes. New sources of data are coming to TV through set top box (STB) and automated content recognition (ACR). According to a new report from TiVo, these two new forms of data are changing the ways in which buyers, advertisers, networks, and programmers are executing television ad campaigns.

TiVo, now combined with Rovi, counts 2.5 million households in its data set.

“We process millions of households of set top box data everyday, and that’s valuable in this new world of data-driven advertising,” said Walt Horstmann, TiVo’s svp of advanced media and advertising. Here’s what the report found about how next-gen data sources will be used in 2018 ad planning and buying:

  • ACR data: using technology embedded in a smart TV or content to recognize what’s being displayed.
  • Acoustic fingerprinting: using technology to identify unique audio patterns in pieces of content.
  • Watermarking: relying on invisible tags inserted into content prior to distribution.

During the upfront selling season, now underway, networks will show off their data-fueled targeting options, and marketers and their media buying agencies will build planning and measurement models which take advantage of these new data sets. But challenges remain.

“Manufacturers are only beginning to share ACR data with other companies or withholding it completely, limiting the reach of ACR data available today,” the report says. “Vizio is a notable exception, but census-level ACR data availability would require active participation from major manufacturers – and none appear willing to cooperate with others.”

In its report, TiVo argues new data sources are essential because the traditional measurement companies have not adapted to the changing landscape quickly enough.

“We’re not out to create a standardized ratings currency,” said Horstmann. “What TV really needs is lots of data, better targeting, integration across all these platforms and measurement, and that’s what we can do with this data.”

Nielsen, which remains the video measurement standard, said its methodology remains sound.

“To accurately measure anything, you need to be able to directly observe it and sample it in a representative way,” said Nielsen svp of product leadership Kelly Abcarian. “That is why our industry standard panel is and will continue to be the foundation of television measurement. Panels are purposely built for persons-level media measurement, while big data is a byproduct of a machine.

As we have seen in digital, when data is not accurate or transparent, this results in under delivery of the ROI goals and advertisers will either lose confidence in television as a medium, or the agency, or both,” said Abcarian.

@ajkatztv A.J. Katz is the senior editor of Adweek's TVNewser.
Publish date: May 23, 2018 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT