For years, brand advertisers have been operating under the assumption that TV advertising is 100% viewable. According to conventional wisdom, online banner ads are often hidden from the reader’s line of sight, but TV ads cover the entire screen with guaranteed sight, sound and motion -- and without competing content, ads or browser tabs to district the viewer.
But if we ever took the time to think about, we’d have to admit that the premise of 100% TV attention is 100% false. As TV viewers, we’ve all put the screen on mute while burying ourselves in our phones, and we’ve even left the room entirely to do chores or grab a snack. If a TV ad plays on-screen when there’s no one in the room to see it, is it any less of a waste than a digital ad that loads at the bottom of the page? From the marketers’ point of view - no one saw the ad.
If an ad airs to an empty room, can it really make an impact?
In order to accurately assess the value and impact of their commercials, TV advertisers need to follow their digital counterparts and begin measuring whether the viewer ever had a chance to see their ads in the first place.
TV marketers have used incomplete solutions to correct for a major measurement blind spot.
Without access to the attention metrics that are available in digital media, TV advertisers have turned to a variety of proxy measurements to fill the void.
Direct-response advertisers use call-tracking or time-stamped web traffic increases to determine whether a TV ad drove people to consider making a purchase. Advertisers that rely on branding campaigns turn to surveys and built media mix models to approximate which ads led to which KPIs.
But these metrics ultimately fail to address what happens when the ad runs on TV. Was an opportunity to view established? Was viewer attention captured in order to change the way they feel about a brand or product? This fundamental hole in the measurement process is costing advertisers money.
For instance, an astute TV buyer might be able to get an idea of which ad placements were most effective at driving sales, but they’ll never know which ads simply went to waste because no one was in the room to see them. Without the kind of data that can identify these wasted ad dollars, advertisers have no means of reallocating their budgets toward inventory that viewers are more likely see, and drive sales
In fact, any attempt to optimize TV buying is seriously undermined by the industry’s absence of attention metrics. After all, you could have the greatest creative message in the world, but if it airs at a time when most of the audience is getting up, your data will tell you it wasn’t effective.
TV attention is here. Are you ready for it?
Fortunately, TV advertisers are smart people, and new technology is finally allowing the industry to measure the previously unmeasurable.
With each new development in measurement technology, we learn a little more about how consumers really watch TV, and we get a little closer to the day when brands and agencies are no longer willing to waste money on non-viewable ads.
Indeed, if marketers want to understand and optimize the true impact of their advertising budgets, they need to demand more from their TV measurement. They need to demand attention.