Disney, A+E, AMC, Discovery Follow NBCU’s DRTV-Style Measurement for Ad Campaigns

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NEW YORK – The general ad units for A&E Networks, AMC, Discovery, and Disney are entering DRTV-style measurement efforts for advertising campaigns just days after NBCUniversal’s announcement earlier this month that it will start measuring how TV delivers brands’ business outcomes. 

Analysts say TV networks are beginning to make moves to prove TV ads drive results in an effort to better compete with digital behemoths like Facebook and Google.

A&E says it will guarantee outcomes for advertisers after having conducted several tests this year on a model to attribute results to ads that was created by analytics firm Data Plus Math. It is also working with data providers Nielsen Catalina and iSpot.TV.

Peter Olsen, A&E’s executive vice president of national ad sales, expects to do fewer than 10 deals with outcome-based guarantees during this year’s upfronts, but says in time they will become a significant part of how the company does business.

In addition to A&E, AMC Networks and Discovery have started testing the Data Plus Math attribution model, though A&E is the only one (yet) to come out and say it will use it set guarantees.

Instead of guaranteeing delivery to a specific audience, the attribution guarantee is intended to assure brands that their buys will actually produce a business result. “Strategic target guarantees are a nice step, but we believe that outcomes are what matter most to our clients who are under increasing pressure to prove the effectiveness of their media spend,” Olsen said.

Olsen says Data Plus Math is currently furthest along in measuring foot traffic at retail locations and car dealerships, as well as website traffic. And for certain categories like auto, retail, quick-service restaurants, and anything where a client is looking to drive people to a website, he is confident A&E can offer guarantees on those outcomes

Disney is joining the TV companies in announcing new advanced advertising efforts with a new group named Luminate, which will use third-party and other data to make “customized” advertiser messaging programs for Disney networks/brands, including ABC, ESPN, Freeform, and others.

The company says Luminate will be powered by “linear optimization, digital audience guarantees, digital private programmatic marketplace, and attribution studies to quantify advertiser return on investment.”

Dave Morgan, a contributor to MediaPost News, says while TV advertising is effective, TV companies don’t provide real-time reporting at the household and user level for every campaign – something that’s become common in digital, search, and social. 

“That’s a big problem for TV companies that want to avoid big ad budgets cuts – especially from agencies and brands under pressures to provide greater accountability for when and where they spend ad dollars,” Morgan writes. “Digital is winning bigger and bigger ad budgets because it works, and because digital giants can draw a visible line between ad exposure and a sale. As advertisers become increasingly addicted to campaign-level sales attribution – and they are – media sellers that lack this feature will lose budgets, whether or not they are effective. That is the dilemma TV faces.”

He adds that the message for TV companies is simple: “Trust in your platform. TV ads are underpriced, not overpriced. But you won’t be able to capture the real value of your ad inventory until you know exactly how your spots drive sales for your advertisers, and you make sales attribution table stakes for all your campaigns.”