Media buyers want more standardization in linear and digital TV measurement, but a common currency is unlikely

The news: As linear TV and streaming grow more intertwined, media buyers across several key markets are finding that traditional currencies and transaction methods aren’t cutting it, according to the “State of Converged TV” report from TVSquared, released Wednesday.

Dig deeper: Buyers believe that the definition of “TV” has fundamentally changed, but while they and their clients are ready for more flexibility and connection, media companies can be slow to catch up.

  • More than three-quarters (76%) of media buyers in the US, UK, Germany, and Australia at least somewhat agreed that “TV” refers to both linear and streaming, per the report.
  • The majority (86%) agreed at least somewhat that cross-platform TV measurement and attribution was a leading priority for their company or clients. But 57% said that the accuracy of cross-platform measurement and attribution was one of the biggest challenges of converged TV advertising, suggesting a disconnect between what clients want and what TV companies actually offer.

Why it matters: With ad-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) gaining even greater popularity, it’s become more important for advertisers to transact across both linear and digital.

  • For context, we expect there will be 127.7 million AVOD viewers in the US alone this year, per our inaugural AVOD forecast released last month.
  • While that's only about half of the 245.7 million linear TV viewers in the US, we expect linear TV will keep shedding viewers by a few percentage points a year, and AVOD viewership will rise consistently until at least 2025.

What’s next: Many legacy media companies that have recently launched AVOD services have also begun centralizing their inventory across both kinds of TV.

  • NBCUniversal’s OnePlatform launched in February 2020 and lets buyers access inventory across its linear channels and its streaming service Peacock.
  • Discovery’s OneGraph debuted soon after in July 2020.
  • ViacomCBSEyeQ, launched in March 2021, does the same for Paramount+, Pluto TV, and the wealth of combined Viacom and CBS channels.

While individual networks are making strides, there’s still room for improvement industrywide, as there are still few standards for measurement and attribution across networks.

  • Initiatives like OpenAP are working to unify identity-based targeting across linear and digital, with many major networks on board (including both NBCU and ViacomCBS).
  • But according to Paul Verna, eMarketer principal analyst at Insider Intelligence, “a common currency along the lines of Nielsen's linear TV ratings is unlikely to happen, despite the industry’s best efforts with initiatives like OpenAP.”

For more on this, read our “Q3 2021 Digital Video Trends” and “TV Ad Measurement 2021” reports.

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