The emerging future in which software can measure all TV viewing and link viewers’ consequential outcomes back to ad exposures is coming in to view.

But is full attribution really available today – or is it just a mirage?

In a spicy panel at Beet Retreat in the City, “We’re Going Local!”, a trio of executives disagreed on whether the relative absence of such strategies in the TV industry today is the fault of lack of technology – or lack of willingness:

  • Bob Ivins, chief data officer, NCC Media
  • Jo Kinsella, chief revenue officer, TVSquared
  • Brian Wallach, chief revenue officer, FreeWheel

They were led by EY media and entertainment practice lead Janet Balis.

‘Stop being scared’

Kinsella of TVSquared’s, whose platform helps brands learn how TV advertising is driving traffic to their websites, took issue with sentiment expressed on an earlier panel – that measuring TV ads based on real outcomes, like sales, should not take precedence.

“That boggles my mind,” she said. “Why am I going to give you money if you can’t prove that it’s going to work? I’m not going to believe that bullshit. Currencies and GRPs? Just stop! We have the data, we have the technology – and people are getting in the way. It’s time to stop being scared. Use the data, use the tech, drive results. Simple.”

Outcomes are complex

Bob Ivins of NCC Media – the joint venture of Comcast, Cox and Charter – that is measuring set-top box viewing data – said measuring “outcomes” is not so simple.

“You’re measuring an outcome, one outcome – and there’s a bunch of different outcomes,” he explained. “An outcome could be to ‘go to a website’, an outcome could be ‘do a transaction’, an outcome could be ‘do a search’. There’s a bunch of different outcomes.

“Unless you have all those outcomes with the metric on them that you can monitor with real-time and at scale the way you are, then we’re just doing one at a time. And I think when you think attribution, it’s not one thing.”

Real-time measurement

Wallach of Comcast-owned FreeWheel said the new technology allows ad buyers to change how they buy inventory in the middle of a campaign – a vast change from previously.

“A year ago, it would be six months after a campaign was completed before you first look at a report,” he said. “(By then), everything has changed – consumer behaviour has changed, the product may have even changed or the sales channel, etc.”

Kinsella said being able to do that across TV devices required consolidating from multiple distinct software platforms to one that gives a holistic overview.

Is change hard?

But NCC Media’s Ivins replied: “There’s a long journey though, until we can do that executionally in linear TV.

“I mean, there’s a long, long road ahead of us. It’s hard. I think it’s (because of) technology, I think it’s people, I think it’s just the cable plan itself is hard to work with. There is legacy infrastructure on the agency side and the brand side and the technology side.”

But TVSquared’s Kinsella disagreed with the “no”: “Just say ‘yes’. (People say) ‘there’s still so much’, ‘no, it’s hard’, ‘we can’t do that, the systems are old, what about Nielsen? I can’t fire that many people’.

“Just say ‘yes!’. Just say ‘yes’. We are doing it today. It’s happening. It’s real.

This video is part of a series from the Beet Retreat in the City, “We’re Going Local!” hosted by GroupM Worldwide and sponsored by Amobee, Comcast Spotlight, TVSquared and WideOrbit. Please visit this page for additional segments.