Understanding the Value of Television through Effectiveness Measurement – a POV

The ATSG believes in TV and premium video content, and its power to engage viewers to build brands. As a group we seek to promote consistency and transparency in the use of advanced audiences in TV advertising. As the use of advanced audiences has increased in the last few years, there has been a related increase in understanding the effectiveness of TV as a medium, particularly for campaigns that have employed advanced audiences.

Better understanding of how TV works as a medium for engaging consumers has to be a good thing for anyone interested in advertising, and the ATSG believes that any initiatives that shine more light on TV effectiveness are to be applauded. In addition, marketers who have embraced digital will surely welcome similar metrics for TV, enabling a better understanding of the value of their investment in TV.

TV and digital now comprise the two foundational elements of typical media plans. However, the two have followed different paths in the evolution of effectiveness measurement.  Market mix modeling, the science of quantifying the relative contribution of each medium and the impact of variables such as pricing, promotion, seasonality, etc., has long been the primary method for measuring TV’s impact on consumer sales.  This technique statistically compares the ebb and flow of ad spend and consumer response to infer the strength of a medium in the mix. Attribution techniques, which emphasize crediting media sources with ad impact through electronic tracking, are the principal methods used for measuring digital media.  More recently, attribution techniques are being explored for TV, given the availability of granular TV viewing data integrated with consumer databases. The reality is that both measurement approaches offer value in helping marketers decide how best to spend their advertising dollars: market mix modeling from a top down, strategic view and attribution for speedy feedback aimed at tactical optimization of digital media plan elements.


When considering TV effectiveness, the ATSG believes that there are some important points to consider:

  1. TV is not Digital. Applying digital metrics of effectiveness to TV is typically neither feasible nor appropriate. A “last click” is not enough in many cases, even if it can be measured.
  2. TV advertising can operate in all places in the ad effectiveness funnel, but it is particularly useful in building brand awareness and generating positive opinions about brands. This capability is not easily measured via a single short-term campaign analysis. It takes a first impression to get to the last click, and that first impression may well be on TV.
  3. Because of points 1 and 2, careful consideration needs to be given to the campaign objective and the measures used to assess the performance of the campaign. Possible objective measures include awareness, favorability, intent to purchase, subsequent brand-related action such as store or website, purchase penetration, purchase volume in units and/or dollars.
  4. The campaign objective may need to be considered in terms of change over time – eg has awareness increased or did sales increase compared with prior to the campaign? Alternatively an A/B test based purely on campaign exposure may be appropriate, although typically some historical data to understand past behavior gives a better view of the likely effect of a campaign, for example in increasing buying penetration.
  5. Once campaign objective measures are agreed, appropriate measurement data and effectiveness methodology need to be selected. There are various vendors providing effectiveness measurements and no one-size fits all solution. When choosing the best data supplier, the following should be considered:
    • Are the required campaign metrics supported by the data? Are there sufficient time-series data for meaningful analysis?
    • Are the data sources transparent? Eg are sample sizes and market coverage revealed by the vendor? Are gaps in the data revealed to better understand the validity of results?
    • Are the effectiveness calculations clear and meaningful? Does the vendor hide behind a black box?
    • Can the data be decoupled from effectiveness measurement or is a one-stop shop enforced on the buyer by the vendor?
    • How granular are the data? Is a campaign decomposed into effectiveness by different channels, for example different media groups?
    • Can the results be assessed against normative data for similar campaigns and categories?
  6. The results obtained also need to be considered in the broader context of what isn’t captured in the data – campaign creative, other media and promotional activity, competitive activity and external factors eg macro-economic effects, weather.
  7. The assessment of effectiveness also needs to be considered in terms of action-based outcomes. Who gets to see the results and when – is it just the advertiser long after the campaign has run, or will the results be available and shared with media owners to enable in-flight optimization? Clearly this will vary depending on the data and the campaign objective – for opening night of a movie this isn’t possible but for a longer-term objective, eg getting people to car dealerships, it may be.

The ATSG believes the value of TV is enhanced by good effectiveness measurement, reinforcing studies that have been published in the last few years that demonstrate how powerful a medium TV is. Some of these studies are available via the links below. If you have another that you would like added, please let us know!