OPINION: Online needs to talk TV language

Phil Duffield
By Phil Duffield | 10 September 2012
Adap.TV's APAC Managing Director, Phil Duffield.

The online advertising industry needs to talk in a way that TV planners understand if it wants to shift more of the marketing budget its way.

TV people talk in terms of total audience rating points (TARPs), relating the cost of campaigns to the share of the audience. Of course their definition of the total number of viewers is related only to television, yet millions of us are now consuming video online, increasingly through our connected TVs. TARPs measures have embraced time-shifting in response to the growth of personal video recorders, but they’ve ignored the elephant in the room: how much is being viewed online.

Online marketers talk in terms of reach and, if you’re lucky, frequency, but only within the confines of what’s consumed on the internet, often just within their own ad network. That’s of little use to planners who want to design cross media campaigns that will have the greatest impact.

The issue is becoming more significant as faster broadband speeds enable more content to be viewed through fixed internet connections and increasingly on mobile devices. We also know a sizeable chunk of the population is now taking an iPad to bed to watch TV, perhaps on a catch-up service from an established broadcaster. But it’s not counted as TV viewing because the device wasn’t a TV set and the delivery wasn’t free to air or cable. Increasingly, it makes the TARP's data misleading and it does little to promote the advertising potential of online video.

The answer lies with Nielsen. Its fusion panel in the U.S. measures cross-media consumption by monitoring internet behaviour in homes where they have TV People Meters. In its own words, it gives “a clear view of how everyone in the house watches TV, surfs and streams.” A key part of this is its extended screen ratings, which credits the ratings for TV shows viewed online.

The significance of the Nielsen Fusion Panel is that the online industry can demonstrate how a slice of the TV budget can be used to help increase reach and frequency of campaigns. Such data will help monetise the online video industry and provide efficiencies for advertisers. It will also help TV networks who are extending their influence online.

Sadly though, whilst the Nielsen Fusion Panel has recently been launched in the U.S, it’s not yet available in Australia. However, it’s coming soon, we’re told.

When it does, the picture will change, and media buyers need to be prepared. They need to understand that TARPs are not something you hoist over the barbecue when it looks like rain. Thankfully, it’s not an extensive vocabulary and the reward will be a significant increase in online expenditure. We're waiting Nielsen.

Phil Duffield
Managing Director Asia Pacific

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