On February 10, our Researcher Mike Glantz was able to attend the ANA TV and Everything Video Conference. In light of our recently published call on the future of TV audience measurement in our new report "TV's Currency Conversion" (client access only), here are his observations from the event:

Overall, the conference featured an excellent lineup of presenters and speakers:

  • Nielsen announced that it is adopting Ad-ID standards into its local and national TV measurement methodologies. If marketers embed the Ad-ID tracking code, Nielsen will be able to report on brand-specific commercial ratings.
  • Bob Liodice, CEO of the ANA, announced that the ANA is forming a joint consumer panel with Canoe Ventures to test the effectiveness of Interactive TV (iTV) ads.
  • Al Gore discussed the importance of multichannel media planning and how CurrentTV is working to reach its audience across TV and digital.
  • Barry Judge, the CMO of Best Buy, shared the thought process (and hilarious outtakes) that led to Best Buy’s first-ever Super Bowl commercial.
  • David Stern elaborated on the NBA’s international expansion plans, as well as the NBA’s use of social media to drive brand awareness.
  • Lisa Bacus and Telisa Yancy from American Family Insurance explained how American Family shifted marketing budgets into branded video entertainment and leveraged digital assets across multiple touchpoints.
  • Google’s Mike Steib presented some insightful data on the fragmented video landscape across TV and digital.
  • David Lubars from BBDO used the resurrection of Betty White to illustrate how TV can deliver emotional brand messages and generate viral media online. 

A few of these sessions stood out for me in terms of how they impact TV and video advertising in the near-term future.

Though there were a number of exciting initiatives that were touched upon, reliable measurement, specifically cross-channel measurement, was cited repeatedly by panelists and speakers as a top priority for TV marketers. Bob Liodice, CEO of the ANA, mentioned that reliable cross-channel measurement will start with digital metrics. Once digital metrics are understood and “fixed,” then marketers can apply those metrics to TV to effectively measure across channels.

Fragmentation was another hot topic at the conference. According to Google’s Mike Steib, 50% of all US TV viewing is happening on networks with less than a 1% share of voice. Marketers need reliable, accurate ways to measure audiences on not just the big broadcast networks but across the extensive landscape of small, cable networks. On top of this, marketers need to be able to seamlessly measure audiences across TV and digital and not waste their time making “apples to oranges” comparisons between disparate data sets.

The final session of the conference was a panel of marketer, agency, and network executives who discussed 10 issues in 50 minutes. The most hotly debated topic? The upfront. Though some argued that the upfront is a useful tool to negotiate long-term buying and large media deals, many believed that the upfront is a dated system that does not allow marketers the flexibility that digital offers. Furthermore, most of the panelists agreed that the TV landscape is already so fragmented that no single network should have as much power as the current upfront system grants. Marketers will need new currencies to allow them to buy across relevant networks and effectively target their audiences.

What these three sessions in particular added up to was the need to change the approach to TV advertising. The answer? Set-top box (STB) data. STB data allows marketers to accurately measure audiences across the tiniest cable networks, measure second-by-second commercial data, and seamlessly compare audiences across TV and digital. In our newly released report that was co-authored by Mike and me, “TV’s Currency Conversion” (click here if you are a client to read the report), we make the call that:

  • STB data is poised to gain traction as a parallel planning currency with Nielsen ratings.
  • Local advertisers need to incorporate STB data as a new currency in 2011, and national advertisers (and those that sell national advertising) need to prepare to leverage STB data in the next 12 to 24 months.

What are your experiences with STB data? How is your local or national marketing organization looking at STB data as an alternate planning currency? Let us know your thoughts below or in The Forrester Community For CMO & Marketing Leadership Professionals.