• We’re currently in the eye of the storm for TV disruption, and this is only accelerating as the media landscape becomes more fragmented. The tsunami of new streaming and over-the-top (OTT) services means that advertisers will be more challenged than ever to reach and measure their target audiences; additionally, broadcasters and networks are fighting to gain an increasingly limited share of their viewer’s attention.

    Yet as viewership bifurcates, the rise of digital content delivery and Smart TVs is creating a new world of rich TV insights that advertisers can use to find their audience, measure the impact of their campaign, and even cap exposures to messages. The technology driving this disruption—automatic content recognition (ACR)—is embedded directly within the TV set itself, helping advertisers and networks meet the challenge of a crowded marketplace head on. 

    How ACR data helps you find TV audiences

    ACR technology represents a seismic change in how TV audiences are reached and tune-in is measured. By operating at the screen level, ACR can analyze whatever content appears on a viewer’s Smart TV and whether the image is delivered via broadcast, cable, or digital. This provides a true signal of what audiences actually see on their TV sets, including both the programming and TV spots and how long they are engaged before flipping the channel or turning off their device. 

    This data-driven approach finally brings to TV the accuracy and granularity that made digital a truly measurable medium. And while the concept of TV has changed, audiences’ love of programming hasn’t receded. People still love engaging content—they just have an infinite number of choices, spreading out much the same way that they did across the open web.

    ACR data’s role in advanced TV measurement

    Advanced TV measurement continues to be bound to antiquated techniques and small, unrepresentative viewer panels. The more content and delivery options that are available, the harder it is to use traditional methods to sew together a comprehensive understanding of viewers. ACR technology and the data it produces helps advertisers navigate this viewership disruption with real-time accuracy and increased scale, providing a truly representative and de-duplicated measurement of digital and TV ad exposures across all screens.

    For advertisers, this is a seismic shift. Since the advent of television, advertisers have had limited ability to connect their media spend to the audiences they wanted to reach and effectively measure the impact of their TV strategy on real-world business outcomes. 

    The rise of insightful and actionable TV data means that brands have the opportunity to upend the way they approach the Upfronts. By deploying more data-driven media strategies that go far beyond traditional age and gender demographics, they can efficiently connect TV budgets to the audiences that matter most and measure tangible business outcomes.

    This is also useful for networks and ad-supported streaming platforms. With a more accurate view of who is actually watching their programming, networks can now make more informed decisions on which shows are truly resonating with viewers. They can also better segment their audience for their advertiser partners, and they can more effectively drive tune-in to new shows and special broadcasts by targeting the viewers in their audience most likely to respond to that programming.

    Better viewing experiences

    It’s important to point out that ACR brings a great deal of benefit to viewers as well. The data derived from ACR technology can deliver content recommendations, starting with a high-level understanding of which programs are the most popular across a mass audience, down to a personalized selection delivered to individuals based on what they watch on their TV. ACR data also informs reach/frequency measurement, which allows brands to understand when they are either over-saturating or under-serving a target audience. 

    With this kind of potential impact across networks, advertisers, and viewers, ACR should be one of the first things advertisers leverage as they try to navigate the choppy waters of the modern media landscape. As the number of viewing options continues to multiply in the coming months, the need for accurate TV viewership will grow as well. Advertising is an audience-driven practice, and TV has finally reached a point where detailed audience insights are the norm, rather than the exception.

    Aden Zaman is Sr. VP, Strategy and Business Development at Samba TV.

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