First Party Data is Integral to Breathing New Life Into TV

As people spend increasing amounts of time getting the latest updates and content via their Facebook feeds and live streaming media on their phones and tablets, advertisers must use a much wider channel strategy to get their brand message in front of consumers.

Digital has quite forcefully overturned the entire media industry, causing even the most traditional companies to adapt or be left behind.

This shift was highlighted during last summer’s 2016 MTV Video Music Awards. Unfortunately for MTV, the combination of a Britney Spears comeback, Kanye West, and a 16-minute Beyoncé performance couldn’t stop the VMAs from suffering a 34-percent viewership decline. The ratings dip was not altogether unexpected as VMAs viewership has been on the decline for a few years now with 2015 bringing in 10.3 million viewers, down from 13.7 million in 2014.

However, contrary to lower ratings, first-party data based on the online and offline activity of consumers (rather than cookies or other proxies) shows that people are actually engaging with TV-like content more than  ever–they’re just doing so in different ways across many different channels.

For example, MTV enjoyed a very healthy flow of viewers to its digital channels during the VMA’s broadcast. According to the network, live streams were up an enormous 70 percent from last year, topping 62.8 million streams. Additionally, social channels drove significant attention to the TV event with Facebook bringing in 45.8 million video streams and the #VMAs hashtag trending on Twitter for 13 hours surrounding the show. According to Nielsen, the only TV event to generate more tweets thus far was the Super Bowl.

While many attribute the VMAs viewership decline to the younger  generations preferring digital channels and live-streaming to TV, look no further than the 2016 Rio Olympics for evidence that this is a much larger trend among much broader audiences. NBC experienced double-digit rating declines, falling short of advertisers’ expectations. Some consumers cited the excessive number of commercials as one of the reasons they were not watching, however in reality the commercial load for Rio was exactly the same as  four years ago.

Similar to the digital growth seen by MTV for the VMAs, Rio experienced record-breaking digital growth. Nearly 50 million viewers streamed 3.4 billion minutes of Rio coverage on devices, according to NBC research. Clearly the numbers show that digital is not cannibalizing television, but rather expanding existing TV content to a wider audience that is naturally moving across different channels.

Advertisers can no longer ignore that mobile devices and streaming services are becoming preferred methods of consumption. Advertisers should seek to better extend the reach of their TV ad buys through digital in order to target their audience across the screens where consumer attention is fixed.

As advertisers embrace TV and digital working together, the real challenge will rest in measuring the effectiveness of an advertiser’s message across various channels. The traditional siloed measurement strategy of measuring GRPs for TV, cookies for digital, and MRI surveys for print simply do not work for this complex digital viewing landscape, where advertisers need a single holistic view of the omnichannel viewer across all of their touchpoints.

 In order to achieve this accurate, single view across TV, digital, and print, marketers need to leverage first-party data based on the online and offline activity of actual consumers, rather than cookies or other proxies. This enables advertisers to execute much more effectively across devices and accurately measure the effects of TV, print, and digital on driving ultimate performance metrics like online and in-store sales.

Erin Madorsky is SVP of Sales at Viant, and a contributor to ClickZ

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