Cross-Channel Measurement Data Often Falls Short on Capturing Diverse Audiences and CTV Viewers. Here’s What Needs to Change

By Helen Lum, Executive Vice President of App Science®

TV measurement has come a long way from the days when Nielsen set-top boxes and panel data were the only options for gauging audience reach. In addition to the emergence of streaming and cross-screen device use since then, the makeup of TV audiences has also transformed.

In fact, multicultural audiences are now statistically more likely to have streaming apps compared to the rest of the market, emphasizing the power those viewers hold on the channel. But from a media measurement standpoint, keeping pace with demographic changes to understand and activate diverse audience members requires a new approach.

Let’s explore why the industry has been stuck in the past when it comes to measuring ethnically diverse audiences across mobile and Connected TV (CTV), how the challenge can be solved, and what brands stand to gain.

America is Diverse and It’s More Apparent than Ever

The United States has grown significantly more diverse over the past decade. In fact, growth in the multicultural population accounts for nearly all population growth in the U.S., and a multicultural majority is expected over the next decade.

Whereas CTV audiences are more reflective of the national population, traditional TV under-delivers against Black, Latino and Asian audiences and 18- to 40-year-olds. Traditional TV audiences skew heavily towards white and older audiences, as 54% of traditional TV viewers are over 55 years old.

Traditional TV audience measurement methodologies were designed to look at large audiences watching a small universe of content directly on the screen and do not account for individual viewing habits. In a sprawling, addressable, and highly-dynamic CTV ecosystem, this measurement approach doesn’t give advertisers the full insights they need into how their campaigns are performing, nor can it drill into the demographics of these audiences. Plus, ethnically diverse audiences are often undercounted in data sets used for measurement.

Demographics are Changing but the Industry is Stuck in the Past

Diverse audiences accounted for 41% of the U.S. homes viewing over-the-top (OTT) content on CTV devices. Breaking it down even further, 60% of Black consumers say they watch content that’s specifically geared to Black audiences at least weekly.

As population demographics increasingly shift with each passing year, representation in content and in ads are also changing. Part of solving for this is that brands must recognize that their audiences are craving content that is reflective of all ethnicities.

The current issues with CTV metrics reside in the fact that there are no standard metrics and attribution methods. It’s hard for advertisers to understand who they are reaching across platforms and devices, unless they target with a specific audience in mind. With that, advertisers must leverage their data at hand to understand where their audiences are and how to target them properly. They must do their research and figure out who their audiences are and who they are trying to reach.

The industry needs to come together to find a solution that can better capture diverse audiences via measurement – especially diverse audiences that have largely been ignored through traditional TV.

Measure What Matters Most to Understand All Viewers

The industry continues to be challenged by legacy measurement providers whose data is still not fully representative of the market’s diverse audiences. The TV advertising ecosystem needs to move away from traditional measurement metrics, yet current data solutions are not able to authentically measure diverse audiences accurately.

The industry needs advanced analytics and measurement tools to better understand and have a representation of both general and multicultural segments. Marketers must look at a combination of data sources to paint a complete picture of multicultural audiences and better reach and engage with viewers.

As an example, mobile and CTV device data better captures unique viewing habits and app preferences in a privacy-compliant manner. Mobile app data enables richer, behavioral audience insights. This and other data sources that point to human behavior signals can help brands inform future campaign planning. The measurement industry must continue to evolve to fully capture diverse audiences’ and capture their viewing habits, preferences, life stages, and interests.

America has always been a land of diverse opportunity and diverse populations. But for too long, TV shows and ads have primarily represented only one group of audience. CTV cast a light on the industry and was the turning point brands and advertisers needed to adapt and change. Americans are craving content that is reflective of all diversities, and not just the historical majority. Accurate measurement that captures diverse audiences is paramount to engaging and reaching  these audiences and will be critical for brands’ success.