Enabling Audience-Based Buying: Why the Data Behind the Delivery Matters

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As the TV upfront pitching season draws to a close, it's undeniable that audience is a big part of the story. The television industry is pitching new audience-buying capabilities and advertisers are clamoring for highly targeted audiences that will move the needle. This year, TV has come to the table with both reach and advanced audience segmentation capabilities.

Not unlike prior upfronts, advertisers just want the right audiences: people who have specific behaviors, interests and passions that will help drive a return for their brands. To connect advertisers with engaged, brand-safe audiences, TV is taking a page from digital and leveraging big data sets to not only include age/gender but also audience-based buying.

However, in today's increasingly complex media ecosystem, the success of emerging audience-targeting platforms is dependent on accurate audience data. True apples-to-apples comparability across the industry outside of walled gardens—utilizing objective third-party measurement—is what CMOs like P&G's Marc Pritchard are calling for.

Related: How Global Brands Like P&G Will Measure OTT Success

As the dynamics of linear television advertising transform, it is critical that the use of long-standing, independent, accredited data remains the cornerstone of audience-based buying. To make this transition, trustworthy insight into the TV universe is imperative when it comes to accurately targeting and posting on audience-based segments.

Accurate Targeting and Measurement Requires Representative Data

Using big data alone for audience-based buying doesn't offer a representative view of the TV universe. Biases and coverage gaps in set-top box data make audience targeting solely based on set-top box data inaccurate. In addition, set-top box data is only available on a household basis. Moving away from person-level measurement to household-based targeting will not reduce advertising waste.

Related: Nielsen: TV Screen Dominates Adult Viewing in 4Q

Evolving to audience-based buying can only be accomplished with representative, calibrated panels that provide person-level measurement. Direct person measurement is critical to advertisers because it ensures the consumer they are targeting is actually watching a given TV program at a particular time. That is the bellwether for success.

Without accredited persons data to verify the results, it is impossible to know with certainty if the person being reached has the desired characteristics sought by the advertiser. It is necessary to have a representative view of the entire TV universe that includes all types of people regardless of how they get their content. This is the only way to get real verified person's level measurement that validates the composition of the people in the home, as well as the actual viewers. Otherwise, it is just a collection of device-level data.

Without a representative universe to accurately target and measure audiences, advertisers will not know if they are reaching their desired audience. This in turn means marketing dollars are not delivering their optimal return.

Understanding the delivery of those persons is what Nielsen's TV ratings has provided to the marketplace for decades. As measurement adapts to consumer behaviors that deliver on advertiser desires, leveraging the best understanding of the consumer will remain at the heart of measurement.

Related: Nielsen Expands Twitter Metrics Into More International Markets

Data confidence is at the core of the evolution.

Advertisers and agencies want to pay to reach highly targeted audiences that will move the needle on return on marketing spend.  As the television market transitions to audience-based buying, it is critically important that advertisers and agencies can have confidence in the data underlying audience measurement and delivery.

(Photo via FamZoo Staff's Flickr. Image taken on May 25, 2016 and used per Creative Commons 2.0 license. The photo was cropped to fit 16x9 aspect ratio.)