TV & Streaming

As streaming continues to grow, marketers say concerns over measurement and transparency persist

At this year’s NewFronts, platforms debuted all sorts of features to woo advertisers. But buyers say more work needs to be done.
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Keith Morrison for Amazon

4 min read

Every year, NewFronts presenters tell the same story: we’re sexier than linear TV—give us your money. That message hasn’t changed much.

“It does feel a bit like Groundhog Day,” said Bryan Master, SVP and head of enterprise partnerships at Omnicom, who said every platform likes to brag that “this is the year [they’ll] steal all the linear dollars and crack the code.”

This year, though, the data is finally on streamers’ side. Streaming surpassed linear television in terms of weekly reach among 18–49 year-olds in 2022, according to Nielsen data that Roku shared with Marketing Brew. While buyers will still spend more on linear television than on streaming platforms this year, they know which way the wind is blowing.

Some stats:

  • Connected-TV spending is expected to grow 39% this year to reach $21.2 billion, more than double the 2020 level, according to the IAB. Three out of four buyers surveyed by the IAB said CTV was a “must buy” in their budgets.
  • During NewFronts presentations last week, Roku touted 61.3 million active accounts, Samsung said it had access to insights from more than 45 million smart TVs in the US, Tubi shared it had 51 million active users, Peacock said it had 28 million monthly active users, and Amazon said that Judge Judy Sheindlin’s new show on FreeVee, Judy Justice, totaled 40 million viewer hours. So, yeah, it’s big.

“Consumption is moving to streaming,” Brad Stockton, VP, US national video innovation at Dentsu, told Marketing Brew. “Our dollars and impressions need to follow that consumption behavior.”

One step forward, two steps back

While the scale is getting there, measurement and transparency are still lagging, media buyers told Marketing Brew. In conversations ahead of this year’s NewFronts, four media buyers raised concerns about measurement.

That shouldn’t be surprising, as buying streaming inventory can be as opaque as any other platform, especially amid Nielsen’s ongoing measurement snafus.

“In the last three or four months, I don’t feel like anybody has set aside anything that makes me feel like there’s a solid direction as it pertains to [streaming] measurement,” said Ira Maher, VP of strategy at integrated agency The Basement.

Streaming executives know it, too. “What is holding folks back from going all-in is really some of the challenges that have been plagued by things around frequency management measurements [and] transparency,” Cynthia Clevenger, Tubi’s VP of sales marketing, told Marketing Brew.

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Though those concerns likely weren’t completely alleviated last week—NewFront presentations lean heavily on new content, which can sometimes feel like 30 Rock bits—each platform took the time to emphasize what they’re doing on the ad-tech front.

Bells and whistles

Connected-TV companies Vizio and Samsung both pitched their automatic content recognition (ACR) technology and the screen-level data it collects, which can be used to measure what ads have run and where. “ACR data doesn’t come from polls or diaries or panels or focus groups after the fact, but from actual viewing data from actual TV screens, as it happens,” said media personality (and supposed “media cartographer”) Evan Shapiro, who hosted Samsung’s NewFront presentation.

Tubi announced an expanded relationship with Nielsen, specifically adopting the measurement company’s Digital Ad Ratings product, which uses Nielsen’s traditional panel data—along with computers, smartphones, CTV, and tablet data—to measure viewership.

The Fox-owned free streamer is also giving advertisers contextual analysis around what kind of content their ads appear next to. For example, instead of telling an advertiser their ads ran alongside dramas or comedies, content will be labeled more precisely, like “Black History,” which can then be used to inform creative campaigns and partnerships. Clevenger said these labels help provide “a little more context and relevancy that can offer a few applications for advertisers.”

Roku, meanwhile, debuted a collab with Microsoft Audience Insights, which will match its own streaming data with Bing search analysis, giving advertisers another metric for measurement. It also touted its clean room, announced in April, which theoretically will let agencies and brands compare their own data sets against Roku’s data to get a better understanding of ad performance.

Though all seem to be steps in the right direction, advertisers say more work needs to be done.

“Clients want to know what they’re buying, they want to know what they paid for, who they reached, and I don’t think that that’s an unreasonable ask,” said Master. “Lets stop dancing around these very obvious, blatant issues…This is the expectation, and if you can deliver on that, then you’re gonna get the bag of money.”

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