The state of European TV attribution

Emmanuel Josserand Brand, Agency and Industry Relations

Increased availability of viewer data is paving the way for innovation in TV attribution. Opportunities are emerging to harness diverse insights — from smart TVs, TV operators, digital platforms, ACR (automatic content recognition) businesses and commercial providers — to link TV ad exposure with business outcomes.

Progress, however, differs across markets. In the US, broadcasters and pay-TV companies are rapidly enhancing the accountability of TV at varying levels of granularity. But while European attribution is developing, it currently faces several head winds.

In its latest study, conducted in partnership with media research and consultancy company MTM, the FreeWheel Council for Premium Video, Europe explores the current state of TV attribution in four key markets in Europe — the UK, Germany, France, and Italy — alongside issues the industry must resolve to improve the accuracy and accessibility of TV measurement models.

The TV ecosystem today

Rapid change is sweeping through the TV ecosystem. As audiences shift from linear-only viewing to cross-device consumption, broadcasters are moving into a new era of multi-platform TV. This transition has not only expanded TV scope and performance, but also driven calls for measurement to mirror deep online advertising insights. Brands want a clearer view of return on advertising spend (ROAS) across all channels, including the impact produced by specific TV ads on viewer behaviour, web traffic and sales.

European sell-side players are taking positive steps towards meeting this demand. Sales houses are tapping more audience data and investing in data-based advertising products — focusing on three areas of addressability: video on-demand (VOD), linear via set-top-box (STB) data, and hybrid broadcast broadband (Hbb) TV overlays.  These initiatives are building the foundation for advanced TV attribution.

Core attribution challenges

Although the size of European markets inherently puts a tighter limit on how much sales houses can spend on technology, there are other complexities and barriers slowing down regional growth.

  1. Inconsistent approaches: While there are some standard audience definitions, these are generic and rooted in demographics, instead of interests or behaviour. This makes it difficult to identify or track niche TV audiences across broadcasters, preventing effective attribution.
  1. Restricted insight: Some data is in short supply, especially return path data from smart TVs and STB devices which is exacerbated by a lack of data sharing between operators and vendors, cutting off alternative options such as matching online traffic to ACR and fingerprinting from connected TV viewing.
  1. Tight legislation: European players are subject to strict regulation. Data which is often applied to connect viewer outcomes with TV ad exposure, such as IP addresses, counts as personally identifiable data under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and usage is restricted, slowing down attribution implementation.

A brighter future

The progression of European TV attribution depends on better collaboration, from every area of the industry. Operators should embrace deals that will allow trusted tech vendors to enhance data pools, and the precision of attribution insight. Broadcasters must boost scale and simplicity by working to create shared audience definitions, in addition to unified offerings that enable cross-platform ad targeting. And advertisers need to work closely with attribution providers to deploy more suitable and effective metrics into their solutions.

To view the full FreeWheel Council for Premium Video report on the European TV attribution, click here >>