Kate Bulkley, Media Analyst.

Comparable data will benefit the commercial broadcasters

By Kate Bulkley

Broadcast News

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For Broadcast November 01, 2021

A cross-media measurement service puts TV in a better position to compete for advertising with the online giants, says Kate Bulkley

Kate Bulkley

As we near the end of 2021, many things are returning to the pre-Covid norm. But some – like the increase in the amount of TV watched on-demand during the pandemic – are here to stay.

The fact that many people even want to watch the latest episode of The Great British Bake Off on-demand has put commercial broadcasters on notice: they are competing ever more directly for advertising dollars with the global tech giants led by Google and Facebook.

It’s not that linear TV advertising monies are going away tomorrow, but competition for those dollars and pounds is only going to increase as consumption moves increasingly on-demand and online.

Advertisers and agencies that need to buy both TV and digital ad time have long argued that the ‘data Holy Grail’ is an ability to fuse linear TV viewing information with the first-party, second-by-second live viewing data coming out of Facebook, YouTube, TikTok and the other tech platforms. However, there have been big hurdles, not least broadcaster resistance to equate a 30-second TV spot with a one-second view on Facebook.

After a period of work that started with World Federation of Advertisers in the US in 2019, a global cross-media measurement service called Origin has emerged in the UK. A group of 30 advertisers – including heavyweights Unilever and P&G, agencies Mediacom and Omnicom, publishers and global platforms like Google – are behind it.

The system is in testing mode but should go into trials in early 2022 (and fully live in 2023). According to Unilever exec Sarah Mansfield, it will improve the efficiency of the group’s advertising by at least 10%, which is significant for advertisers and media groups. The key for broadcasters has always been to ensure their premium TV content remains a key part of advertisers’ media plans.

“This is not TV versus Facebook,” Mansfield tells me. “For us, it’s how to plan across the entire media and get better outcomes for our spend.”

Origin is designed to gather information from a variety of sources, including Barb TV panel data, BVoD data from measurement tool CFlight (including Sky, ITV and Channel 4), first-party data from the big tech platforms, audio data from radio body Rajar and publishers’ measurement data from Pamco. The information is anonymised via a system dubbed Virtual ID – which, crucially, does not identify individuals but people with the same characteristics. This method protects individual privacy – a hot topic now that online cookie tracking is being phased out over privacy concerns.

“By making C4’s BVoD inventory comparable with Google and Facebook, the broadcaster can start to eat into that bigger digital cake”

Given that the government has called out C4’s business plan as unsustainable in the face of players like Netflix and Google, embracing a more comparable and scalable data measurement service appears timely and should be especially helpful for C4’s bottom line, which has been disproportionately impacted by YouTube because of its youth-skewing audience.

By making C4’s BVoD inventory comparable with Google and Facebook, the broadcaster can start to eat into that bigger digital cake.

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