TVSquared is helping agencies, brands and even broadcasters tackle one of the most pressing concerns in the advertising market today: demonstrating the impact that TV campaigns have on online and offline behaviour, like website visits and even purchases. Besides general attribution and campaign ROI modelling, the company provides data analysis showing which genres, channels, programmes, days, dayparts, creatives or audiences performed best, giving media planners the means to optimise in-flight campaigns or spend future budgets more effectively.
TV campaigns can be made up to 80% more effective using the ADvantage attribution software from TVSquared. Efficiency improvements, meanwhile, have been verified at 30-40% for brands spending large sums of money on television, Blair Robertson, Chief Technology Officer at TVSquared, reports.
His company boasts 700 brand, agency and broadcaster customers worldwide. Service-based companies, e-commerce firms, online travel providers and – in the U.S. – pharma companies, are among the biggest users for its attribution tools.
The ADvantage solution was developed partly to satisfy agencies, who were inundated with data but wanted someone to give them actionable results. It requires a minimal set of data to get started and can be useful to media planners within hours, Robertson says.
ADvantage provides data-driven advice to planners based on the outcomes they seek, which could mean moving money from one channel to another. It will list actions that would help a TV campaign deliver more unit sales per week or reduce the cost per sale, for example.
Optimisations can be introduced very quickly, with agency or client planners typically using the data to make manual adjustments. The system will even predict the impact of TV before buys are placed.
A key part of the solution offered by TVSquared is ADwatch and its real-time spot detection. This technology was added with the 2017 acquisition of wywy and uses automated content recognition (ACR) to automatically report when a brand’s television ad has aired. This creates the ‘exposure’ data that is the basis for attribution. Alternatively, an agency/brand can provide their own data on when campaigns ran – which may take longer.
The next step is to correlate TV exposure to consumer activity on brand owned-and-operated digital destinations – notably their website or apps, but also call centres or SMS (like when charities encourage text-giving, for example). If brands are selling via the Amazon marketplace, this is another online data source they have access to.
Sometimes brands want TV to drive consumers to their website in order to research a product, and then into stores or showrooms. “We make a very accurate link between the TV spot and incremental activities on a brand website for a period of time after the TV campaign,” Robertson explains.
The key word here is ‘incremental’. One of the tasks for ADvantage is to work out the normal/base level of activity on the website and what was generated thanks to TV. “We learn from each brand’s own data. Every brand creates a different waveform – different distortions on their website, so we learn what these look like,” says Robertson. “We introduce additional filtering so we can say someone visited ‘brand.com’ because they saw a television ad.”
The consumer journey may not end there, of course. “On this occasion, the consumer may carry out research but not buy anything. The brand sends them a targeted email and they then go back to the site and make a purchase. We follow the whole journey.”
Thanks to this combination of tracking and filtering, layered onto an awareness of campaign exposure, TVSquared can predict the probability that television advertising, rather than marketing via other media, delivered an outcome, like a sale. “We also work out, on balance, what TV inventory performed well or less well,” Robertson adds.
Most of the work undertaken by TVSquared harnesses first-party data owned by the brands, partly because the accuracy is guaranteed and partly because it is available quickly. Brand data can include till receipts and TVSquared worked with a large fashion retailer in the U.S. where physical store purchases were included in the dataset.
Blair points out that if you are using bricks-and-mortar store visits, extra filtering is needed to take account of the weather and other influences on whether people go out. “It tends to be only large advertisers who want to go through that experience,” he reveals.
The bulk of TVSquared work (60%) is with brands directly, but 30% is helping agencies. Broadcasters are the third market, as they look to understand their own products better and, in some cases, provide consultancy advice to planners. The broadcast opportunity is growing as they are pressured to (better) prove the value of TV.
An emerging trend is for broadcast sales houses (and indeed, those of platform operators) to do more consulting. “We can give broadcasters insights that help their brand clients get better value from their TV spend,” Blair says. Broadcasters must also avoid becoming ‘data-disadvantaged’ as the buy-side gets smarter with attribution.
Robertson says TVSquared is client-agnostic. Despite its work with brands, it is not trying to take a consulting role currently provided by agencies (or anyone else). The company provides a ‘software-as-a-service’ and the optimisation recommendations are based on data and not on human expertise. TVSquared is steering away from end-to-end solutions. It is not positioning itself as a platform that will plan digital marketing activities. The company is not paid on performance.
“We think agencies add value, but there is demand from the wider buy-side for a tool that can do this [improved attribution and planning optimisation],” Robertson notes.
Until now, the ADvantage product suite has been focused on linear television but Robertson says this is going to change. The company is spending more time monitoring streaming video, using impression data from media owners, where this is available. TVSquared works across linear broadcast and linear streaming, and with on-demand on set-top boxes and digital. Most of the business today is linear broadcast, because that is where the bulk of money is still spent.
A short-term goal for TVSquared is to ensure ADvantage is enterprise-class, as it looks to meet the expectations of agency groups. Robertson articulates the top-level mission. “Our opportunity is to be the best in the world at television attribution and helping clients to buy TV in a better way.”