November 30, 2023

The Evolution of Data-Driven TV Advertising (The Yahoo Version)

The ever-evolving TV advertising landscape enters its data era. Discover why ACR and STB data are a duo that's never going out of style.

Mallory Armstrong

GM for Data Product at Yahoo

Shake Off Inefficiencies

The summer of Barbie, Beyoncé, and the Taylor Swift Eras Tour has given way to the fall of football - at least as die-hard fans once knew it to be. As the football advertising landscape adapts to a new world where football and Swiftie fandoms collide, the TV media industry is in the midst of its own revolution. The heart of this evolution? Data. Specifically, the unprecedented access to unique signals from both traditional linear and CTV platforms, once untouchable behind walled gardens. 

A Fearless Combination

Taylor has become recognized by some as synonymous with “the music industry” with her music sampling across country, pop, punk and indie folk (some may even recall her foray into rap). Similarly, TV viewership is comprised of different “genres” of data, including:

  • Automatic Content Recognition (ACR) This became the digital darling of TV data due to its ability to detect, second by second, which programming and commercials “hit the screen.” It became a necessary component for CTV strategies by providing a sampling of both linear and over-the-top (OTT) viewership behaviors per TV set brand, also known as original equipment manufacturer (OEM). This data provides a robust sampling of viewership data across multiple input sources such as STB and CTV devices. 
  • Set-Top-Box (STB) Before ACR, there was Set-Top-Box (STB) data, which had long been accepted as the primary source for linear viewership, capturing national representation for each cable provider, also known as multichannel video programming distributor (MVPD). This data yields a nearly complete picture of linear viewership across OEMs, acting as a sample that can help determine the propensity of viewing behaviors more broadly across multiple OEMs.

The two balance each other out, each amplifying the other's strengths, bringing campaigns to new heights with additional value in: 

  • Better Identification: STB shines with its deterministic data and known household resolution, ACR supports custom creative identification within days. 
  • Accurate Viewership: Together the two data sources provide a more accurate representation of actual viewership behaviors, countering issues with phantom viewership, misattributed program, or commercial detection.
  • Broader Demographics: Geographic and demographic skews exist across ACR and STB usage; only with these two sources together can advertisers get a more complete and accurate representation of viewers. As an added bonus, The Yahoo graph of 192M authenticated U.S. users.¹ further deduplicates and removes outliers to normalize the data.

In a world already plagued with fragmentation, a more comprehensive sample capturing diverse behaviors supports the data-driven media plans of today’s advertising teams. 

As the industry continues to respond to viewers’ time split between traditional linear and CTV options, the TV screen continues to offer a prime seat in the home for advertisers to reach consumers. Without the commingling of ACR and STB data, campaigns are leaving half of their audience on the sidelines.

Accurate data matters, and missing out on the power of commingled TV viewership is akin to trying to get tickets to the Eras Tour without a code; you are going to end up paying way more or find yourself missing out entirely on being able to reach your audience.

We’re in Our Data Era

The media landscape, like the music industry — and it seems the sports category — is ever-evolving. Just as Taylor Swift reinvents her music and, in doing so, wins over new audiences, advertisers too must adapt, evolve, and innovate. It’s time to move beyond ACR-only data strategies and embrace the era of unified viewership, coupling the massive reach and accuracy of STB data with speed and breadth of ACR data.

The future of advertising is here. Want to learn more about what Yahoo is doing? Reach out to your Yahoo account team today!

¹Yahoo internal data, 2023


About Mallory Armstrong

Mallory Armstrong leads the strategic development of the Advanced TV Analytics Suite and data partnerships at Yahoo. With over 15 years at the intersection of data and technology, she has a passion for developing analytics products that help marketers anticipate the ever-evolving consumer journey.

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