Lack of single-source measurement could risk credibility of TV

'We're in a situation now where I could be paying three times the price for a VOD ad before Game of Thrones', according to Tesco media chief.

TV Advertising Summit: Direct Line Group's Sam Taylor, Cox, Walker, Ashley and Campaign's Gideon Spanier
TV Advertising Summit: Direct Line Group's Sam Taylor, Cox, Walker, Ashley and Campaign's Gideon Spanier

The biggest problem for brands that advertise on TV is not being able to understand the difference in the audience they are reaching on linear TV and video-on-demand.

That’s according to Nick Ashley, head of media and campaign planning at Tesco, who explained that the retailer uses VOD to address the reach gap.

"We’re in a situation now where I could be paying three times the price for a VOD ad before Game of Thrones versus a linear TV showing, and that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever unless you understand the relative value of each of them," he said. "And we don’t understand the relative value of each of them at the moment."

Ashley was speaking at the Campaign TV Advertising Summit in London yesterday (Tuesday) on a panel about measurement.

His views were backed by Lisa Walker, head of media and sponsorship at Vodafone, who said that a robust measurement system is necessary to future-proof TV.

She said: "We need a system that measures all video in the same way and one that recognises the difference in quality of the devices [being used] and the content the ads sits alongside."

Joe Cox, senior media strategy manager at O2, warned that if the industry cannot crack this measurement problem, TV runs the risk of losing its power and credibility.

Moreover, Cox said that the way TV ads are measured needs to be an "evolution, not a revolution". He continued: "TV works and it still works well, and everybody watches TV, but it’s about achieving the right balance between buying specific audiences and generally. So any changes we make need to be made with care and caution.

"We also need to learn from the mistakes that we made from digital, when we got sold the hype that digital is going to transform the world, traditional media's days were numbered and with digital we can measure everything.

"But, actually, none of that really delivered and we found that with digital, ironically, we can measure less of what matters than we can with a lot of broadcast media, and TV is actually very measurable. We need to be careful."

Cox added that connected TV, over-the-top and subscription services are bringing changes to the market so media planners, analysts and marketers "need to get to grips" with things such as viewability and device state – whether it is on mute or switched off.

He explained: "TV is going to move to a 100% viewable brand-safe environment into one where there are more variables and things like valid traffic are going to become more and more important. And within valid traffic you have general invalid traffic, which is what goes on, but it’s also becoming more and more sophisticated and TV planners are going to have to be on the ball in that sense."

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