Advancing Attribution for Advanced Television

As marketers rightly seek and demand better, clearer reporting into the efficacy of their media spend, so advanced television campaign measurement and attribution is receiving more scrutiny. To aid marketing teams in this pursuit, the IAB has released an advanced television attribution buyer’s guide, and there are a few key takeaways every omnichannel marketer should take note of.

The Move to Multi-Touch
In the past, marketers were satisfied with single-touch attribution, crediting lift to either the first or last touchpoint in a customer journey. However, as this method oversimplifies the customer journey, marketers have increasingly turned toward multi-touch attribution solutions to paint a clearer picture.

The path to better attribution for television campaigns, however, is not without bumps and forks in the road. To this end, the IAB provides a few guidelines.

First, marketers must match exposure data at the household level. Depending on the delivery mechanism, that method will vary. For addressable television, exposure data will be based on the MVPD’s client information, such as the customer account number, set-top box ID, or some other proprietary identifier. For OTT and CTV ad delivery, third party data will be used for targeting, and tracking pixels will collect the exposure data.

While both will offer a respectable level of data, it’s easy to see how marketers who run video across both could face awkward measurement & attribution hurdles as first and third party data from varied sources come together.

To alleviate these attribution pains, the IAB recommends that marketers look for the following key characteristics in their attribution partners:

  • Quality, both in the their collection methodology and the statistical significance of data collected
  • Compliance, both with respect to data privacy and with media partners
  • Clarity, both on required lead time and in the reporting timeline and available metrics

Solving Common Challenges
Once an attribution partner is selected, marketers will still have many hurdles to overcome. Indeed, the top challenges the IAB notes are:

  • Identity resolution
  • Data collection & measurement
  • Compliance
  • Deployment

While the resultant granular issues are many, the solutions all boil down to proper attribution partner vetting; a working understanding of partner capabilities, streamlining vendors to reduce the number of integration hurdles, and other due diligence on the part of the marketer.

For instance, identity resolution poses a challenge in advanced television attribution, as cookies do not exist within connected televisions, not all devices support IFAs, and IP-based solutions can lead to inaccuracies. To solve for these issues, the onus is on the marketer to understand how partners identify users and to decide what their comfort levels are with whatever probabilistic methods are used to match users that cannot be matched through deterministic means.

Simply put, there is no singular easy answer. Until all televisions are connected and all video opportunities are addressable, the quest for data granularity will inherently lead to deployment and reporting complexity, and the desire for convenience will inherently lead to ambiguity and discrepancy.

Nevertheless, the IAB does offer some advice to make the most of whatever attribution partner a marketer selects. In short, they advise to align on numerous topics prior to launch, which we’ve distilled down to:

Objectives, from reporting expectations to the KPIs that will determine success
Methodology, from what’s being measured to desired attribution window
Transparency, from visibility into other third parties that might be involved to access to first party data

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