Attribution in the Time of COVID-19
26 March 2020 • tvsquared
Meg Coyle,
Vice President of Communications

For the world, for the ad industry, for every single one of us on a personal level, COVID-19 is uncharted territory. We’re all trying to navigate it as professionals, but also as parents, caretakers, partners, you name it. It’s not a topic to take lightly or use to shamelessly hawk a product or service. But it is the world we’re living in and we have to work together to ensure businesses survive and thrive in this “new normal.”

As the global leader in TV attribution, TVSquared has a unique view on how this pandemic is impacting advertising across the world. We’re in touch with thousands of brands, agencies, media owners and publishers in 70+ countries to understand the impact of COVID-19 – and we will be sharing the latest TV ad insights and trends arising from this global pandemic.

While we’re learning new things every day, here are our thoughts this week:

Attribution is More Important than Ever

Cost optimization is a growing priority for advertisers across the ecosystem, which is why it’s so critical to use real-time, accurate proof of performance to measure and optimize ad spend. Every dollar has to work, so advertisers need attribution to first identify changing response patterns and then capitalize on them. 

Brands Shouldn’t Go Dark

Naturally, some advertisers are considering going off TV to figure this all out. But for the vast majority, this is a mistake. Pausing a campaign will lose the brand effect you’ve been building – this sounds harsh, but people will forget you. While you may use TV, primarily, for immediate performance, don’t disregard the longer-term impact it brings too.

Viewing Trends are in Flux  

This homebound economy is driving new behaviors and TV – from linear to OTT – is playing a major role in the shift. Our homes are now all-encompassing entertainment zones … even movie theaters! We’re seeing TV viewing rise significantly across platforms. How long this trend will last, we don’t know. It’s also possible that consumers might eventually accelerate cord-cutting or drop streaming services to save costs in a downturn economy. That’s why staying on top of viewing trends is critical.

It’s All About the Audience

With viewing patterns in flux, understanding where your audience is consuming content (and when, what creatives they’re responding to, what devices they’re responding with, etc.) is an ongoing process; it’s dynamic, just like the media ecosystem. It’s about measuring whether you reached them and if they took an action based on your ad. It’s about finding the right aspects of a buy that drive response for linear and OTT. And, for the latter, it’s also about maximizing reach, frequency and deduplication.

Test, Learn, Repeat

Now is as good a time as any to test different types of content and distribution – including new programs, genres, dayparts, networks and publishers – to see how they work in this new normal. This is especially the case with programs, as production for most shows has stopped due to the coronavirus. It may be time to test out children’s programming or tried-and-true reruns, which many viewers look to for comfort/reliability in a time of uncertainty.

Want to Lean into Streaming? Now’s the Time

It’s also a chance to measure and optimize TV across platforms like linear and OTT. Make sure you know exactly how they are working individually and together. In the case of OTT, it can be optimized easily. Advertisers can try new formats, shows and genres across publishers. More consumers are watching streaming services than ever before, so this will certainly be an interesting time for brands to lean into streaming.

The Revolution will be Expedited

While the TV ad industry was already in the midst of change – moving toward performance, outcomes, transparency and accountability – this global crisis will accelerate that change. The TV industry as we knew it is now gone. TV will be changed forever, for the greater good of the advertiser. We believe the way TV is bought and sold will change (the Upfronts as we know them are gone – but will they be missed?), while performance insights and attribution will be used for every campaign.

There is still a lot we need to understand about COVID-19’s impact on our industry. But if we can leave you with one piece of advice, it’s this: watch performance closely. We’re now home all day – some with kids. There’s going to be shifts in behavior and that can play well for any brand that has its finger on the pulse of attribution.

To see TVSquared’s insights on how TV spend and performance have been impacted by industry due to COVID-19 so far, click here.