Dish unifies digital and linear advertising measurement with comScore

Dish Network has signed up Sling TV to be the inaugural streaming TV customer of comScore’s new cross-platform addressable measurement service. comScore is measuring addressable advertising campaigns across Dish Network’s set tops and DVRs; and viewership on Sling TV’s OTT platform will now be folded into those results to give advertisers a more complete picture of audience reach and campaign performance. That makes Dish one of the first service providers to offer addressable advertising measurement across digital and linear.

The advent of addressable advertising was supposed to bridge the worlds of linear TV advertising with digital targeting, as addressable advertising enables marketers to target TV ads to viewers like they would on digital platforms. But addressable advertising – which is limited to the two minutes per hour of advertising that service providers can sell – hasn’t exactly revolutionized the industry. Initially, scale was cited as the biggest obstacle for the ad format to overcome, though addressable penetration continues to climb, with current estimates pegging addressable households at upwards of 70 million. Now, it’s a lack of inventory that’s holding up the addressable TV ad model, according to its proponents, coupled with a stubborn business culture that has been slow to embrace new advertising models.

In the meantime, the rise of streaming pay TV has made the digital advertising ecosystem the new playground for marketers and networks alike, and great efforts have been poured into harmonizing buys across linear TV and digital platforms.

Dish was an early champion of this vision, as much of its advertising strategy with Sling TV has focused on uniting linear and digital platforms with programmatic and addressable TV. It has offered addressable advertising to its advertisers since 2012, and Dish opened up cross-platform advertising last year, which enables advertisers to reach audiences across linear TV, OTT and VoD, and across devices with a single buy. But addressable TV advertising and digital advertising have remained siloed when it comes to measurement. With its new partnership with comScore, Dish can now offer advertisers a third-party verification of audience reach for its addressable ads that covers both traditional TV and streaming TV.

“As more addressable TV inventory becomes available in OTT, there’s a growing desire among advertisers to take advantage of the premium quality of television with the benefits of greater addressability,” said comScore EVP Cathy Hetzel. “At the same time, it’s important that this inventory can be valued alongside traditional linear formats with consistent independent measurement.”

Advertisers can now have “an apples-to-apples” view of a campaign’s performance across platforms and devices, compared to traditional linear TV, said Adam Lowy, head of Sling TV advertising sales.

The ability to track ad performance across platforms has been a sore point for the advertising industry, as Nielsen has been slow to embrace measurement on new platforms and devices. comScore claims to be the first company to provide measurement for addressable TV impressions across platforms like streaming pay TV services and connected TV devices like Rokus. Nielsen offers addressable TV measurement, but doesn’t integrate linear and VoD viewing across streaming services like Sling TV.

Addressable TV advertising spend grew 66% during 2017 to reach $1.26 billion, according to eMarketer. But the ad model, which is on a collision course with the growing connected TV digital advertising segment, makes up only 1.5% of total TV ad spend.

comScore’s chief rival in the measurement space, Nielsen, has focused on building out its data management platform (DMP) capabilities through its marketing technology arm, Nielsen Marketing Cloud. Last year, Nielsen acquired attribution firm Visual IQ and Sony’s data firm Gracenote, subsequently launching what it claims to be the industry’s first person-level TV targeting DMP. Nielsen claims its hyper-targeting DMP will help to harmonize targeting between linear and digital. Nielsen has signed up a handful of clients to its Marketing Cloud platform, including most recently the sports-centric OTT service fuboTV.

Damian Garbaccio, EVP of Nielsen’s Marketing Cloud, claimed last year the DMP is “leading the way towards a consistent currency for addressable media.” Nielsen is also working with TV networks Fox, Turner and Viacom that make up Open AP to devise a standardized currency for addressable TV, which Nielsen thinks will help spur adoption of more advanced targeting ad models like addressable for linear TV.