Attribution Continues to Illuminate the Value of TV in Outcomes


By Ethan Settel, Sales Lead at Data Plus Math

One of the most challenging, yet most needed measurement models in media today is attribution. Accurate attribution is pivotal in ascertaining the strength and impact of an advertisement throughout the consumer consideration funnel, and on the various media platforms.

Attribution uses data to enhance our ability to confidently measure marketing outcomes for video advertising campaigns. As data and technology advance, the measurement of television attribution continues to evolve. A series of recent strategic partnerships, as well as formative client studies, have proven the value of television multi-platform content in driving consumer purchasing.

How Does Attribution Work?

In today’s highly fragmented media world, consumers are faced with a barrage of messaging from multiple sources.  In spite of all these channels of engagement, the measurement of TV attribution is still too often centered on crediting the “last click” for the purchasing decision.  This mistake ignores the myriad of consumer touchpoints that led to a final transaction.

Historically, since the explosion of online advertising, the industry had given full attribution credit to the final transactional click, even though today, most experts acknowledge that the ultimate transaction is the result of many ad exposures across many different media paths, from direct mail to multi-screen. Today, the industry acknowledges that it is possible to capture the impact of a wider footprint using data from a variety of consumer touchpoints. These touchpoints include Smart TVs, Set Top Boxes, Mobile Phones, Tablets and Desktops, Full Episode Players, Display and Third Party ad tracking, and more.  All of this data is then connected with Online Conversions, Foot Traffic measured through Mobile Location, Automotive Registration, Credit and Debit Purchases, CPG Purchases, and First Party Data to provide a much fuller picture of what influences purchasing behavior.

There is no longer any reason to cleave to the last click attribution model. It is time for the industry to shift to a robust accurate attribution measurement; one that provides partial credit for each relevant exposure throughout the purchase consideration funnel, in a timely manner, to enable a real-time, reaction-capable, tactical measurement of campaign performance.

To that end, there is a push towards using a multi-factor model to separate attributed lift from the underlying baseline activity, providing input to ensure campaign optimization. This can be done across platforms – connecting multi-screen TV and Digital ad exposures to marketing outcome signals, then applying multi-touch modeling to see how important each exposure is to the entire campaign outcome while the campaign is in flight. Notably, today there exist comparable metrics and timelines for television and digital campaigns, accessible through an online dashboard.

What this enables us to do is:

  • More accurately attribute outcome lift to the correct media
  • Attribute customer web traffic, store visits and product purchases to TV campaign exposures
  • Determine which audience segments were converted
  • Determine optimal frequency for campaign goals
  • Tune campaign and creative for optimal customer response

A number of recent TV attribution studies in several verticals found that television contributes to converting consumers to action. This occurs differentially by vertical and by TV exposure.  Some examples:

Individuals exposed to campaigns running within the QSR and Casual Dining verticals on television are 3-10% more likely to visit a brand’s restaurant than if they had not been exposed. It was also observed that exposures during both Prime and Late-Fringe dayparts drove greater lift in foot traffic than exposure during other times of day. Additionally, greater lift was reported to take place for exposures on major broadcast networks when compared to exposures on cable networks.

In the Online Travel space, a 5-13% lift was observed in one’s likelihood to visit a brand’s website if an individual was exposed to advertising on TV. Surprisingly, mid-week ad exposures, as well as exposures during the Early-Fringe daypart, were most effective at driving lift in website visitation. Unlike in the QSR and Casual Dining space, a greater lift in the Online Travel vertical for exposures on cable networks than on major broadcast networks.

The retail category, as expected, exhibits differential lift in outcomes for online retail and big box retail.  TV accounts for 26-48% lift in retail website traffic and 10-15% lift in foot traffic at Big Box stores.  Weekend exposures, both Saturday and Sunday drove greater lift for retail than mid-week did.


According to a study cited by eMarketer, nearly two-thirds of marketers say that attribution has increased in priority.  As an industry, we continue to adapt our methods to include all of the touchpoints, and best in class data integration and modeling techniques. We have seen and likely will continue to see that the importance of TV in advertising campaigns can be quantified through embracing holistic and robust methods of attribution.


About Ethan Settel, Sales Lead at Data Plus Math

Ethan leads sales at Data Plus Math, working closely with some of the industry’s largest TV advertisers to provide new visibility into consumer behavior. Previously, Ethan has held Sales and Business Development roles at Legendary Entertainment’s Applied Analytics team and a number of other companies across the advertising technology space.


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