Use Transaction Data to Power Your Over-the-Top TV Advertising Performance

By David Wyler, Media Center of Excellence, IRI

“Don’t tell me how good you make it; tell me how good it makes me when I use it.”
– Leo Burnett

In the past several years, TV has re-captured the attention and imagination of marketers. With consumer viewing behavior moving quickly, video consumption is now splintered across an ever-widening number of TV/video “swim lanes” – from traditional linear to advanced TV including data-driven linear, addressable/video-on-demand (VOD), over-the-top/connected TV (OTT/CTV) and digital video. CPG advertisers have begun to reap the rewards of moving to purchase-based audiences from age/gender proxies, and toward understanding the impact of their advertising campaigns on in-store sales, as well as top-of-funnel brand measures like awareness and consideration.  TV/video has become increasingly digital and the explosion in the number of TV viewing data sources, software integration platforms and data science, ensures that the next several years will be dedicated to experimentation and refinement.

One of the most interesting areas is OTT/CTV. OTT refers to any app or website that provides streaming video content over the internet and bypasses traditional distribution such as cable and satellite operators. This includes subscription services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, ad-supported channels like Roku, PlutoTV and TubiTV, as well as hybrids like Hulu. CTV describes the estimated 80%+ of OTT viewing that takes place on connected TV devices.

OTT offers brands a number of compelling benefits:

  • Helps drive incremental reach
  • Increases engagement with the advertiser’s message due to smaller ad loads
  • Minimizes the potential for ad-skipping by viewers
  • Offers the option to target high-value customers using CRM or transaction data
  • Enables in-flight, campaign optimization using deterministic transaction data
  • Provides more flexibility to develop new, successful ad formats

Whether or not you’re already using it today (and if you’re not, you likely will be soon), it’s important to develop best practices in order to create as much value as possible from your advertising investment.

Test and Learn, Test and Learn

Advertisers must create a learning agenda and begin to establish norms for their specific brand/s. They need to assess what portion of their TV/video budget to allocate across the various swim lanes described above, and what would need to be true or change to warrant a re-allocation. It’s critical that brands be proactive and continue to re-evaluate their assumptions in the face of changing consumer behavior, market conditions, technological capabilities, new measurement opportunities, etc.

For some advertisers, earmarking money to OTT reflects a desire to message an audience defined by viewing within that swim lane. Others may be looking only to target specific, high-value segments (e.g. deterministic or modeled, heavy and medium brand buyers) within this channel. Marketers need to test how different segments perform and align their targeting and execution strategies to capitalize on the strengths of OTT with a view toward complementing the rest of their TV/video spend. 

Optimize Inflight and Make Measurement Meaningful

To optimize in-flight campaign performance, marketers can use verified household purchase data for the most recent week to understand which networks, dayparts, genres, creatives, level of frequency, etc. are most effective in driving conversions for their advertised product. By working with a data partner with a large frequent shopper cards data set, advertisers will be able to leverage more purchase signals earlier inflight, thereby enabling them to heavy up on tactics that are driving conversion and achieve better outcomes.

While marketers very often look to benchmark their post-campaign performance versus a CPG, product category or sub-category norm, the truth is that these norms only go so far. Each brand or product is unique in terms of its equity, its top competitors, the dynamics of the category in which it competes and % ACV distribution (or percentage of stores that sell a product). Advertiser campaigns have a wide range of objectives, such as targeting cord-cutters or cord-nevers, competitive conquesting or re-engaging lapsed buyers. Once more, they differ in how they target, from using age/gender targets to different cuts of audience-based, purchase data.

Given the high variability across campaigns, marketers need to develop best practices for each brand within their portfolio and establish standards against which they can meaningfully track their own progress. It’s great to have category benchmarks but it’s also important to reach your brand’s specific goals.

Interrogate Your Data Partners

Ultimately, every successful campaign starts with good data and good data partners. Don’t hesitate to interrogate them (that includes us at IRI too!) to be sure they are the right fit for you and your goals. Ask:

  • Do they offer both probabilistic and deterministic audiences?
  • What is the size and source of the audience data?
  • Do they have a view into the number of weekly purchases for your brand/category to provide sufficient signal for in-flight optimization?
  • What is their aggregated number of frequent shopper program/loyalty cards?
  • What is the size of their static panel?

As I mentioned in a previous article encouraging CPGs to embrace advanced TV, it’s critical for advertisers and their agencies to use transaction data. As consumers continue to cut the cord, and a new generation of cord-nevers grow up, TV/video consumption behaviors will continue to evolve. Marketers that have an intimate understanding of how to apply data across advanced TV platforms to build reach and relevancy with their high-value customers will have a distinct advantage over the competition.

Want to learn more about how you can use OTT and other advanced TV more effectively for your campaigns? Contact me at or reach out to your IRI representative.