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Getting ahead of the audience measurement curve in a streaming first landscape

3 minute read | April 2023

Make no mistake: Marketers know that TV audiences are shifting to streaming services. Global viewership trends, as detailed in the 2023 Nielsen Annual Marketing Report, are hard to ignore. As a result, 84% of the global marketers surveyed for the report say they now include streaming in their media plans. And on average, they’re allocating 45% of their ad budgets to channels that audiences access through an internet-enabled TV (i.e., CTV1). The downside in this scenario, however, is that many don’t yet see the value of these investments.

Despite global marketers’ plan to increase their CTV spending by an average of 40% this year, their perceptions about the effectiveness of these investments is low. In fact, only 49% of global marketers believe their CTV spending is either extremely or very effective. In Asia-Pacific, perceived effectiveness is just 41%.

Compared with something straightforward, such as fixing a flat tire, measuring CTV and streaming engagement presents an array of challenges, ranging from access to quality data to perceived overlaps with traditional TV to internal knowledge gaps. CTV and streaming also represent a relatively new channel for marketers, which amplifies the difficulty associated with understanding consumer journeys across all channels (i.e., assessing full-funnel media ROI).

“Only 53% of global marketers, on average, are confident in their ability to measure complete consumer journeys”

The benefits of quality audience data

Quality audience data—deduplicated across channels—is critical in any marketer’s quest to track consumer engagement with media. This is a notable challenge for global marketers, as, on average, only 23% say they definitely have access to the quality data they need to get the most out of their media budgets. Comparatively, a much larger portion are only “somewhat” confident in their access to quality audience data. Without quality audience data, marketers will be ill equipped to measure the engagement of their desired audiences.

Access to quality data could address two other challenges that marketers face amid the rise of streaming: overlaps with traditional TV and organizational knowledge gaps. Nearly 40% of global marketers say internal knowledge gaps and understanding audiences between streaming and traditional TV represent areas of difficulty when it comes to advertising across CTV.

The importance of marketing technology 

Marketing technology (martech) represents the other critical piece of the cross-media measurement puzzle. This isn’t news to marketers, but using channel-specific tools to measure channel-specific engagement can make it difficult to understand complete consumer journeys. On average, 62% of marketers globally use multiple measurement solutions to arrive at cross-media measurement, with 14% leveraging four to five.

Utilization of existing martech could also be a hindrance to measurement confidence, as Gartner’s 2022 Marketing Technology Survey Insights found that only 42% of survey respondents said they use the full breadth of their martech capabilities, down from 58% in 2020. Investment in martech is another factor, as 24% of marketers, on average, plan to reduce their investment in martech to some degree, with 12% planning cuts of 150% or more.

Embracing a comparable measurement mindset

Globally, 71% of marketers say that comparability in cross-media measurement is important, yet cross-media ROI measurement remains elusive for many, with streaming and CTV measurement presenting notable challenges. 

To obtain their long-term measurement—and business—objectives, marketers should consider tools, solutions and metrics that are media-agnostic. With the right tools—those that help marketers arrive at a single view of audience engagement—infused with quality audience data, confidence in measurement will rise, and marketers will be better positioned to understand individual media engagement as the landscape evolves.

For additional insight, download the 2023 Nielsen Annual Marketing Report.


1 Connected TV (CTV) refers to any television that is connected to the internet. The most common use case is to stream video content.

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