What streaming platforms can learn from games about cross-device measurement
As the CTV industry grapples with ongoing measurement challenges exacerbated by an increasingly fragmented ecosystem, it makes sense to take a page from the playbook, writes Frameplay’s Cary Tilds.
If Hollywood wanted another show about unsolved mysteries, it could follow the lives of ad executives as they try to piece together the mystery of data in the connected television (CTV) streaming space. It would be a real nail biter.
The CTV streaming industry continues to struggle with significant fragmentation and a lack of transparency. While space growth is still predicted, the industry has yet to agree on a standardized, verified answer to its most fundamental question: who is actually watching?
/ Dean Geurts
The power of known interaction
CTV media players may want to turn to the gaming industry to solve this problem. The gaming industry is moving forward with a viewable impression and audience measurement standard for in-game advertising (IGA) intrinsically integrated into computer and video games – led by industry authorities like the ‘Interactive Advertising Bureau and the Media Rating Council – which shows advertisers the effectiveness of their investments. The game was able to circumvent some of CTV’s biggest measurement challenges by determining a universal way to process, with high precision and accuracy, whether someone actually saw a given ad. Not only does this mean that games can offer advertisers more reliable metrics, but it can also push the connected TV industry to produce viewability and attention metrics.
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A recent Nielsen report claims that brand advertisers are allocating almost 50% of their video budgets to streaming, up from 10% before the pandemic. That’s a huge leap given the ever-changing options for allocating ad spend (think social media, cable TV, and even the emerging metaverse).
Investment seems overpriced against opportunity in the gaming space. When we think about how we consume shows on our favorite streaming apps, it’s usually a passive experience. It might be a guilty pleasure we watch alone or a series finale we watch with a dozen other people in the room. Ads become breaks to check our phones, talk to friends, or grab a snack. It’s rare for someone to pause an ad so they can watch it when they return from the bathroom. But playing a video game with inbuilt ads creates a totally different situation.
Video games are essentially cinematic quality content that people can engage and interact with. The gaming industry has technology that can understand when a person is actively playing the game. Through transparent, non-disruptive advertising known as in-game advertising, we are able to understand session activity anonymized game, including what advertising is shown. All of this is used to calculate reliable viewability metrics for each ad served, which CTV cannot yet do.
That’s not to say the game can’t fall victim to audience duplication and other common ad traps. But gaming has a superpower that other content channels lack, which is known interaction with content. Even though players are anonymous, we can understand gaming patterns in relation to advertising exposures, as these relate only to active gaming. No other medium has so much insight into a consumer’s interaction with content, and therefore, associated advertisements.
The TVC industry is trying to address several issues, including fragmentation, accessibility, measurement, and lack of standardization. Experts at the IAB Tech Lab suggest that fully delivering on CTV’s promise requires the industry to establish a set of technical standards that enable seamless interoperability.
The industry can also look to gaming to address these issues. When it comes to measuring ads for gaming experiences, viewability is one of the key metrics. Some vendors are able to measure how long an ad impression is visible during gameplay. This often involves complex in-game pixel analysis that accesses ad ratio, point tilt and obstruction. visual view of the player. TVC industry players should invest more time and resources in developing similar solutions.
The gaming industry also has a better ability to measure what a user did after encountering an advertisement and then stopping playing the game, such as whether they visited the app or website linked to the brand displayed in the advertisement. Gamers don’t want to click on an ad while playing a game, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to interact with the brand after the game has stopped. These metrics are available to advertisers, thanks to impression attribution, which provides evidence of conversions.
Video games are the most popular and profitable form of entertainment today, with 64% of adults in the United States playing them, according to recent data from the Entertainment Software Association. Luckily for advertisers, the industry is able to understand a lot about gamers, including how they view the game at any given time. Consumers who play video games engage in a more advanced experience; With in-game advertising, we are able to measure if someone saw the ad in-game and even interacted with the brand after the game session.
As the CTV industry seeks to solve the puzzle of cross-device measurement and standardization, the video game industry should serve as an example to make it work. Consistency of CTV gaming and viewership data is an ongoing challenge that will only be resolved by developing industry-leading capabilities, practicing collaboration, and standardizing viewability metrics. The gaming industry sets the standard for what others can learn about the extent of their respective worlds.
Cary Tilds is Director of Strategy and Operations at Frameplay.