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Why Companies Need to Be Sure About the Quality of their Data

March 7th, 2019   ||    by Alan Wolk

While the RampUp conference is all about data, one of the more interesting takeaways was how often panelists cautioned the industry to remember that data can’t do everything.

Meaning that data is only as useful as the quality of the data, and the inputs and analyses around it.

Data is Not All the Same

When referencing data quality, it’s instructive to look at how data gets to advertisers: all data starts out as what’s known as “raw data”—the actual raw numbers that Nielsen, Comscore, Inscape, Gracenote, Comcast, AT&T et al pull in from the devices they’ve been monitoring.

But that data needs to be scrubbed, e.g., outliers like sporting events that went into triple overtime and messed up the network’s linear schedule need to be accounted for, viewers de-duplicated, set top boxes left on after the TV has been turned off, etc.

As iSpot CEO Sean Muller noted, there is immense value in using good data, and if a company is relying on viewership or attribution data to make key decisions, high quality data is not a place they’ll want to skimp.

What Goes Into Attribution

Multitouch attribution, which is sometimes referred to as “business outcomes” is a way of proving the efficacy of TV advertising by using data to track the consumer journey through the sales funnel to determine which ads inspired which actions.

The system came about as a response to the metric of “last click attribution” that digital companies have long relied on—literally seeing which ad the user last clicked on before making a purchase.

But as many in the TV industry have long pointed out, no one buys a BMW because they saw a banner ad. There was a long journey filled with BMW commercials that got them there. Multitouch attribution looks at which ads a viewer was exposed to, as well as when and where they were exposed to them, to determine their effect.

One key underlying premise of multitouch attribution is that TV ads have a long-lasting effect, that powerful messages can still be recalled several years after the viewer has first seen them.

Lookalike Audiences

One way multitouch attribution providers determine the effectiveness of ads is by creating what are called “lookalike audiences”—audiences that have many of the same characteristics and purchase habits as audiences that were exposed to the ads in question, but who did not see those ads.

By comparing their purchase habits (e.g., Were people who saw the ads more likely to do an online search for the brand than lookalike audiences who had not seen the ad? Were people who saw the ads on Network A more likely to do a search than those who’d seen it on Network B?)

That sort of research requires a great deal of rigor as well as a large supply of good clean data and a good deal of time—one key theme throughout the conference was that multitouch attribution is not an overnight metric.

The Power of Creative

One critical use case for multitouch attribution is that it can help brands determine which creative units are working best by tracking the results over time. It’s particularly easy to see this with categories like retail and entertainment where ads work to drive sales and tune-in respectively—easily measured metrics. By comparing audiences and their reactions to specific piece of creative, brands can make better decisions about which campaigns to run.

 The Future of Data

Data will continue to play a major role in TV advertising, informing everything from segmentation to automated ad buying. Most speakers at RampUp felt that as the amount of data-driven advertising increased, and success stories became more common, any lingering hesitation about a data-driven future would quickly fade away.

Videa’s Shereta Williams spoke on the future of data in in a recent ExchangeWire article, “As TVs get smarter, the information they contain only becomes more valuable. Marketers can now target specific audience attributes to determine who’s buying products from TV campaigns. Knowing how users engage with ads in real time is where the real power lies.”

She continues, “The makers of said ads will fully realize the value of this data in the coming year. Firms will utilize tech like artificial intelligence and machine learning to show which campaigns work best for which audiences and ensure messages reach the right people.”

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