During Advertising Week 2021, Jon Watts, Executive Director and Co-Founder of The Project X Institute and Director of the TV Data Initiative, asked me, “Why is the TV data ecosystem so important to the future of the industry?”
The short answer is that TV is exactly that: an ecosystem. It’s a complex network of interconnected systems, and no one company has all the data, technology nor talent to deliver the scale, consistency and simplicity that TV needs right now to grow. We need collaboration and cooperation across the industry to make that happen.
The longer answer is that the TV industry moved from data-poor to data-rich very quickly and, with that evolution, came an opportunity to neutralize the advantages that digital has had over TV in the areas of data, targeting and measurement. Unlike the digital ecosystem, TV is not a duopoly where 75% of ad spending is controlled by only two companies. Instead, TV is a highly competitive market that has layers upon layers of legacy business models, business relationships, regulation and traditional ways of doing things—that, from conversations at AWNY 2021 and beyond, seem inefficient (at best).
These decades-long practices mean that TV cannot rewrite its own rules overnight, but it does shed light on the industry’s need for greater collaboration that better supports a “rising tide lifts all boats”-type of environment.
Let’s take TV ad measurement as an example.
To generate accurate household-level, ad exposure data, in today's fragmented environment, we need to ingest and harmonize, at a minimum, ad exposures across all forms of TV: linear, streaming linear addressable. This needs to be done in conjunction with linear data that is sourced either directly from the distributor or manufacturer by combining ad occurrence data with viewership data en masse, the addressable ad exposure coming from the MVPD and the OTT/CTV data from 80+ different platforms (and counting!) If we add outcomes to this equation, we need to include digital outcomes, location-based outcomes and other first- and third-party sources—all coming from different sources in different formats, and, last but certainly not least, all these connections need a concrete identity solution.
In the short to medium term (and potentially the long term), no single company has all the pieces. We, as an industry, need to collaborate and make this process easy to sell, easy to buy and easy to deliver for brands – and that is why a heightened focus on the data ecosystem and a drive toward working together is so vital to ensuring that TV thrives in the future and for all sides of the trade to win.