In this guest post, Brett Gillett, head of sales and account management at TVSquared, casts his expert eye over Australian TV’s next measurement system, the much vaunted but highly delayed, VOZ, and asks – will it deliver on all its promises?
After inevitable COVID-19 delays, July was due to bring the launch of OzTAM’s eagerly awaited Total TV database, Virtual Australia (VOZ). In reality, we won’t see its arrival until at least October 2020.
Several years in the making, VOZ aims to bring together the “who” aspect of broadcast and digital TV audiences; creating the first true all-screen, cross-platform picture of national TV viewing. This bold ambition has already drummed up sizeable hype, with VOZ hailed as a “game changer” that could be the saviour Australian TV needs to take the complexity out of advertising.
But the question remains: will it deliver as the final piece of the measurement puzzle?
A silver bullet solution?
VOZ is undeniably a huge step forward in driving comprehensive understanding of fragmented TV viewing. The unified database will give a broad oversight of what audiences are watching across Australia; combining TV rating estimates from 20,000 panel homes and 14 million devices streaming broadcast video on-demand (BVOD) content. Its anonymised profiles of 25 million individuals are also backed by an extensive knowledge base; including historic OzTAM surveys, Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data, and census-level video player measurement (VPM) data.
This doesn’t, however, mean VOZ is the all-in-one answer to super-charging TV advertising: despite huge data scope, it lacks insight into “what” action TV ads drive. The ability to track audience response is crucial for brands and agencies to evaluate what is working and what changes should be made to boost results. This is a large part of the reason why digital — which has always been able to attribute action to ad exposure — has enjoyed meteoric growth and TV has faced calls to catch up; especially when it comes to linking ad delivery with online actions, such as site visits or app downloads.
It’s no surprise that while VOZ test data is starting to be rolled out, agencies already busy shuffling TV spots and chasing clients are in no rush to organise and integrate additional data that won’t sharpen measurement.
The beginnings of better measurement
This doesn’t mean VOZ won’t deliver highly valuable insight to the Australian market. With the database near finalised for its original early 2020 launch plans, OzTAM has had a detailed window into TV trends throughout lockdown. Special viewing reports have shown significant spikes in linear TV consumption — with news and current affairs programming seeing 79 per cent increases and co-viewing across all age groups up by 18 per cent against last year — alongside 36 per cent growth for BVOD minutes against 2019 and an uptick in the number of viewing screens per household.
Although these patterns aren’t new, they do offer brands and agencies granular data on where audiences have shifted during the COVID-19 crisis; better equipping them to refine one-to-one delivery and adjust frequency in line with who is watching what, on which device. In terms of guiding and measuring reach, VOZ provides a new gold standard for Australian TV, as well as demonstrating the massive engagement potential of today’s TV ecosystem.
But the fact remains that knowing an ad impression was delivered isn’t the same as knowing what impact it made. While TV typically fuels high return on ad spend, maximising investment depends on measurement that proves its value, determines which audiences to target, and defines where both BVOD and linear should sit within campaigns to drive performance. In VOZ, this critical element is still missing and completing the picture will require holistic evaluation.
Achieving next level analysis
Providing the “what” to bolster the “who” is especially key when marketers are under increased budget scrutiny and TV ad ROI is more important than ever. The solution doesn’t lie with abandoning VOZ — instead, there is a need for complementary technology that can close the gaps and empower TV to win back budgets from digital through access to proof of performance insights.
VOZ can still cover the initial stages of assessment; using de-duplicated viewing measurement to monitor who ads are seen by and how often. Advanced tools capable of aligning impression data with first-party advertiser data can then bring response into the equation and connect eyeballs with action. In addition to paving the way for a performance index that generates the actionable insights needed for smarter investment and planning, this powerful combination will give brands and agencies the ability to tie their buys to customisable KPIs and bolster value, as well as incremental uplift.
Of course, there will be challenges. For example, there will be issues around how to ensure access to essential network-owned impression data that’s often handed back to agencies and questions over who will take responsibility for matching it up again. But ongoing innovation and the desire for better measurement will mean solutions should be developed quickly.
In the near term, what seems clear is that VOZ will be an integral part of a total screen strategy; enabling planners to use world-class standards that can deliver to specific reach requirements and allocate budgets more precisely across all types of TV. This supports the broadcasters’ investment in BVOD and allows TV to compete with the targeting capabilities of digital media platforms. However, VOZ won’t be the singular saviour of the Australian TV industry. Only with multifaceted measurement encompassing the “who”, and “what”, can brands and agencies finally gain a complete perspective on TV campaign successes.