Attribution is Coming to Local TV: Highlights from BIA’s Study for TVB


Local TV Stations Will Face Increasing Scrutiny in Attribution Analytics

By Rick Ducey, Managing Director, BIA Advisory Services

BIA conducted interviews with media, agency and attribution vendor executives to get a sense of the landscape and trends for where the market’s headed for local TV and attribution. The full report, along with the VOD webinar and slide deck versions, are available here to TVB members. To get you started, here are a few key insights and take-aways from the research.

In local TV, attribution is probably most familiar in the form of Direct Response ads with calls to action or touchpoints that are easily measurable, such as using tracked 800 numbers specific to a campaign. Testimonials from satisfied advertisers are another important form of attribution to document success for local TV advertising, but the attribution landscape for local TV is changing as more data scientists enter the industry, raising the game for data analytics, insights and cross channel media activation.

To gain insights into the local TV attribution space, BIA reached out to agencies, attribution solution providers and local TV broadcast groups. We completed interviews with seventeen thought leaders drawn from these ranks, covering a different set of core questions with each of these cohorts.

Some of our top-level findings include:

  • Agencies: Pressed for more accountability from their clients, agencies increasingly look to attribution for data to support channel allocations in recommended media mixes. Attribution data is much more accessible in the digital realm when clients access Google Analytics. Attribution solutions tend to focus on the sales response and not brand health. Building campaigns with sales response metrics and KPIs may drive lift in these metrics, but some agencies are concerned that brand health metrics decline in these campaigns in ways that can have lasting negative effects. Attribution is important, welcome, and has a role - but is only one part of the marketing mix. Attribution solutions can be relatively expensive to margin-sensitive agencies; they look to their clients to be customers of these services and to pass along data and insights.
  • Attribution Solution Providers: These firms are riding a cultural wave driving change around marketing clouds, data science and multichannel, multitouch media models. The kinds of attribution solutions we're now seeing in the marketplace grew their roots first in digital, then network TV and radio, and now local TV. These solutions might add 1 percent to 7 percent of media spend to provide a new level of insight into the marketing mix. Local TV attribution now comprises testimonials, direct response advertising and Google Analytics showing impact on digital assets. While agencies and broadcasters are less urgent about more sophisticated attribution models and methods, we expect marketers to start tipping this balance over the next 3-5 years.
  • Local TV Groups: Local TV sellers are proud of their medium's ability to deliver results, both as a single channel in the marketing mix, and in its downstream contributions to lifts in other marketing touchpoints. Testimonials provide persuasive documentation of TV's selling power that are useful anecdotal evidence for attribution. TV sellers see the value in attribution, but feel more pressure from agencies to deliver GRPs and meet CPP goals than to talk about attribution. Ultimately, the attribution game is up to the client. TV sellers feel that with more data-driven and sophisticated attribution modeling, their medium will shine ever more brightly.

Attribution is coming for local TV. On the digital side of what local TV sells, attribution is in the form of Google Analytics’ direct digital KPIs and correlational data for TV's efficacy. As a top of the funnel marketing channel, TV provides lift to other marketing channels and touchpoints. In network TV this part of the marketing equation is more actively addressed by buyers, sellers and solution providers. It has yet to make a significant impact in local TV, but that is changing.

Brands want and expect attribution; attribution providers are certainly willing to sell their solutions, but local TV sellers still get the message that agencies are currently focused on GRPs and CPPs, not attribution. Looking ahead, local TV can get to the next level by moving toward prescriptive selling, and attribution is an important piece of that strategy. Attribution will be increasingly important for local TV's selling initiatives, including spot and digital touchpoints, to prescribe and document results of campaigns.

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