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Multitouch Attribution Is Changing the Way We Think About Television

October 15th, 2018   ||    by Alan Wolk

Multitouch attribution is very much on the minds of everyone in the television industry these days, so it’s no surprise that it was one of the hot topics at the TVB Forward conference held in New York City this month.

 Data+Math founder John Hoctor offered a solid explanation of what it is that companies like his own and iSpot are up to and why so many networks are making it a centerpiece of their advertising plans.

 (It’s not just networks and advertisers who think multitouch attribution is hot—investors do too, as witnessed by the over $30 million Series C round of financing that Seattle-based iSpot just raised.)

 So, what is multitouch attribution?

 At its core, it’s a way of using data to track a viewer’s journey through the sales funnel. Analysts track which ads a user saw, when they saw them, and what actions they took based on that. It looks at what else that viewer was watching, what ads in other mediums they were likely exposed to, and factors in that TV ads, because of their impact, are likely to stay with viewers and influence them for longer periods than banner ads.

 To put all that in real world terms, multitouch attribution can help an advertiser to understand which ads a consumer saw when they first googled “new cars”, when they first googled “minivans” and when they clicked on “Chrysler Town and Country.” It can then track when they visited the Chrysler website, when they searched for “Chrysler dealers near me” and when they went into the dealership and purchased a new Chrysler Town and Country minivan.

Networks are using that data to show advertisers that TV works to drive sales. This is very important for national brands, who use multiple media types in their advertising efforts and who have been shifting money to digital in recent years because of its ability to show trackable results.

Multitouch attribution gives TV a way to use data to show just how effective TV advertising is.

Companies that compute multitouch attribution rely on a variety of data sources, including ACR (automatic content recognition) data from smart TVs provided by companies like Inscape, as well as set top box data from MVPDs and mobile data. That allows them to understand what ads viewers have seen and what actions they have taken as a result of seeing them. They then perform rigorous analysis on this data to obtain their results.

Multitouch attribution is yet another example of how data is transforming the television industry. By using the IP addresses attached to opted-in households with smart TVs, we are now able to understand what ads viewers see and what actions they take after seeing those ads. All without using any Personally Identifiable Information (PII).

Multitouch attribution data is invaluable to both advertisers and to TV networks and local broadcasters. It helps them to push back against digital and to prove the effectiveness of television advertising. For brands, it not only allows them to better understand why television is such a powerful medium for their advertising, but to also understand which creative units are doing a better job of moving consumers through the sales funnel.

 In other words, it’s a win all around.

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