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Continental challenge – advanced TV advertising across Europe and the U.S.

Ben Miller, Operations Director, Media, dataxu
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The way we consume television has evolved significantly, leading to exponential growth in the realm of Advanced TV advertising. This allows marketers a streamlined approach to targeting and offers key analytical capabilities around viewing habits that mean ads can be tailored to audiences more effectively. The marketplace is growing consistently, yet there remain some sizeable differences and stumbling blocks for both the U.S. and European markets.

Cross-continent, we see mutual challenges such as attribution and the considerable lack of measurement in place for Advanced TV. Comscore is currently working on one of the flagship solutions, but this is still in beta. Whilst challenges in North America remain very much cemented in terms of measurement and scalability, here in Europe we also have to live in the wake of GDPR and a new constellation of data protection imperatives. With TV viewership growing and Advanced TV advertising opportunities for marketers coming to the forefront, perhaps it’s time for a deep-dive into the issues separating the international Advanced TV landscapes.


The State of Measurement

‘Connected TV’ falls under the umbrella of Advanced TV, and is essentially a television that connects to the Internet, able to access content beyond a normal cable provider. Whilst the U.S. marketplace may be booming, with the number of Connected TV users predicted to rise to 204.1 million by 2022, our American cousins face a few challenges.

According to eMarketer, U.S. agencies and marketers cited both scale (44%) and quality of inventory (39%) as the biggest challenges for OTT and connected TV advertising. And yet, if you attend any panel discussion on connected TV, you’ll notice that the conversation quickly turns to the question of measurement, and how the absence of a unified metric of measurement across channels is a considerable hindrance.

This is complicated further by the convergence of traditional and digital TV. Back in 2017, a meagre 17% of marketers and agencies claimed there would be a single metric in the future, and little has changed since. Still, a single, consistent metric that establishes efficiency from the get-go should be what we, as an industry, are collectively moving towards.

Nielsen led the way for years, being able to discern television metrics with various players within the industry and seeking to carve out their own ways of measuring data. With other players in the space attempting to develop their own methods, this complexity has considerably affected how advertisers allocate funds to the medium.

So what is the solution?

Cross-device measurement solutions powered by media sellers need to become more broadly available in the market over the next few years. This will allow marketers to finally understand the unduplicated view of total audiences across traditional TV and digital platforms. A common metric will allow the players in the industry to become more personalised with their solutions for marketers, offering a full view of their audiences. A new measurement strategy will reduce the current friction points in the marketplace and benefit marketers to plan, target, transact and evaluate media with confidence.


Europe’s complicated ecosystem

In Europe, there is a noticeable disparity between demand and inventory. The demand for Advanced TV solutions is there, but the market lacks some of the inventory scale, currently – though this is steadily changing. There is also no single consensus regarding the definition of Advanced TV across all countries in Europe, with differing views on what ‘class’ of ad inventory media buyers consider formats like connected TV to be. A lot of connected TV inventory is not clearly identifiable when it is sold, often appearing as digital video (which could be viewed on mobile and tablet screens as well), making it difficult for the industry to understand the full scale of Advanced TV inventory.

The European TV market is by no means static and is subject to some of the same developments as the wider digital advertising industry. With different digital regulatory laws sweeping the various nations, we must consider how the separate limitations of each country feeds into the overall European landscape for Advanced TV. The GDPR means that we, as a flourishing industry, need to refresh our thinking about how we can use data in these new environments.

Finally, connected TV advertising sales strategies are simply not as mature as overseas. This is due to the fact that Advanced TV capabilities are currently fragmented across different services and therefore complicated to aggregate. As Thomas Bremond of Comcast argued, “there is a variety of video consumption habits, local legislation, and technical set-up”, and he contended “it is not like the digital market, where you have standards (such as the IAB) and everything is far more harmonised.”

Ultimately, Advanced TV is striding forward at breakneck speed and shows little sign of slowing down. Global differences showcase how far the industry has progressed, and, indeed, the lessons we can learn from the apparent challenges in each market.


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