The Marketing and Measurement Terms You Need to Know in the New Age of TV

If you’ve watched a sports championship the day after it aired or binge-watched your favorite show, you’re likely aware that TV consumption and advertising are undergoing a transformation. Gone are the analog-only days. TV now fuses analog and digital and spans an array of platforms and devices.

With that shift comes a new set of concepts to master. And to help you understand the new world of TV, we created this cheat sheet to the TV marketing and measurement terms that you need to know.

As TV advertising continues its expansion, some of these terms might fade away, but the ones below are a good place to start.

Foundational Terms

Linear TV: Regular, old-fashioned television that runs at scheduled times only on its original channel. It stands in contrast to time-shifted TV recorded for later viewing.

Non-linear TV: Streaming, DVR, video-on-demand, over-the-top (OTT) or mobile TV technology that facilitates time shifting. 

Advanced TV: TV characterized by four features: time shifting, addressability, interactivity and interoperability. Data-driven targeting is often utilized to target ads to individual households by leveraging a host of data sets from advertiser first-party data to purchase data to behavioral data.

Over-the-top (OTT): The delivery of TV content online. Users are not required to subscribe to a traditional cable or satellite provider to watch OTT content. Typically, it’s delivered in streaming or VOD format. 

Video-on-demand (VOD):  Interactive TV that allows viewers to select content and view it on their own time. Popular VOD services include Amazon Video, Hulu and Bravo on Demand.

Set-top box (STB): The device that delivers the incoming television signal to a TV, typically when the subscriber uses a satellite or cable service.

Automatic content recognition (ACR):  Technology that can recognize content played on media devices or present in a media file. Based on the recognized content, the device can provide content-specific information in real-time. This allows advertisers to associate programming and advertising viewing behavior to specific, anonymous users.

Addressable: Typically refers to TV advertising that’s targeted to a household and has been classified within a specific audience segment. Addressable advertising is made possible via advanced TV and stands opposed to non-addressable advertising which runs on linear TV.

Programmatic TV: Programmatic refers to how the ad is bought and placed. In most linear TV advertising, TV networks and stations pre-arrange with brands which of their ads will run and when. Programmatic automates a part or all of the process and uses audience data to trigger an algorithm that decides which ads to run at a given time.

Operators and Distributors

Multiple system operator (MSO): These entities own and operate a large number of cable or satellite systems and include companies such as AT&T and Comcast.

Multichannel video programming distributor (MVPD): A provider that distributes TV programming services to the consumer for a fee (i.e. Spectrum and Verizon FiOS). 

Enabling Devices and Technologies

Ad exposure data: A log of impression-level data that shows which anonymous households watched what at what time. It can include statistics such as how much a household viewed and if and when viewers dropped off. This data can be sourced for analytics from MVPDs, STB panel data aggregators and ACR identity technology companies. 

Airings data: A log of which ads aired at what time and on what network, as well as associated metadata including program, genre, daypart and DMA. Brands typically get their ads’ airings files from their media agencies. National-level airings files are also available from companies like iSpot.TV and Kantar’s AdScope.

Ratings data: Estimates projecting the number of national viewers across the country who are tuned into a program. There are essentially only two major ratings players—Nielsen and comScore—and each uses different methods. Nielsen models its estimates on the viewing activity of a representative set of households. Alternatively, comScore models its ratings from an anonymized sample set of STB viewer data.

Business outcome data: Shows how well ads worked and can apply to any marketing medium. Business outcome data is granular, individual or household-level. It provides purchase, conversion or customer acquisition details over a time period—along with basic customer details. Many industries have their own main aggregators of purchase-level data stored within CRM systems. CRM systems can be activated for linkages to media campaigns and audience targeting by one of the main three linkage providers available, Neustar, Experian and LiveRamp.

An earlier version of this post was published by Neustar here.