iSpot Acquires DRMetrix To Bolster DTC, Direct Response Offerings and Addressable Advertising Capabilities

 

BELLEVUE — Oct. 11th, 2021 iSpot.tv, the real-time platform for measuring the business and brand impact of cross-platform TV advertising, today announced the acquisition of DRMetrix, a real-time TV ad measurement company specializing in products for direct-to-consumer and direct-response TV advertisers. 

The deal expands iSpot’s measurement of emerging formats for addressable advertising and enhances its ability to track rotating calls-to-actions, including website URLs, SMS and toll-free numbers. This capability — coupled with iSpot’s ability to track distinct creatives at scale and correlate ad exposures to conversion events such as digital actions and in-store traffic — gives brands of all sizes the expanded ability to measure the business impact of complex and dynamic ad buys across platforms. 

“iSpot is constantly investing in the development and acquisition of technologies required to accurately measure the TV advertising of tomorrow,” says Sean Muller, founder and CEO of iSpot. “DRMetrix has developed unique and real-time measurement capabilities around creative versioning and dynamic advertising that will become increasingly important as the TV ad market evolves.” 

DRMetrix’s AdSphere™ developed a measurement system for monitoring all TV ad formats and executions including those delivered via digital program insertion (DPI) ad breaks. The DPI measurement capabilities allow precise identification of ad creatives that are sold by the cable networks as “cover-ups,” which MVPDs inconsistently overlay with their own inventories. 

This inventory, which includes addressable and local advertising, creates a continuous blind spot for networks, agencies and brands. The cover-ups are a favorite means for DTC and DR advertisers to invest in and test television, as they often come at a heavy discount. But both the buy and sell side struggle to accurately quantify the performance and value of this inventory because, until the combination of DRMetrix and iSpot, they could not be measured precisely at scale. 

“We developed a unique system for accurately measuring one of the most dynamic and difficult portions of TV advertising, and we amassed a client base that represents a growing and important part of the TV ecosystem,” says Joseph Gray, founder/CEO of DRMetrix. “In iSpot, we’ve found a home for our innovations to thrive and a vehicle to accelerate our shared goals of making all TV ad measurement more transparent, more actionable and easier.”

The combined capability will also create cost savings for advertisers that traditionally rely on spike analysis, rotating phone numbers and links as the primary means for attribution.

DRMetrix serves 120 brands, networks and agencies, growing iSpot’s customer footprint to more than 450 annual brand subscriptions representing 60%+ of brands in the Ad Age 100 and 95% of TV networks in North America. This is iSpot’s second acquisition of a real-time ad measurement company. It acquired Ace Metrix in January to combine business and brand impact using Ace’s comprehensive qualitative approach to measurement and scoring of creative performance. 

About iSpot

iSpot.tv is the market leader in real-time cross-platform TV ad measurement and attribution. The company’s always-on platform measures the business impact and brand impact of TV advertising and offers fast, accurate and actionable information that empowers brands to justify and optimize TV and video investments.

iSpot persistently measures TV-device impressions and second-by-second attention for all TV ads in a unified manner across linear, time-shifted, VOD and streaming environments. iSpot’s Ace Metrix product measures brand perceptions for TV and video creatives using rapid qualitative panels, and its market-leading attribution solution enables advertisers and TV networks to plan, optimize and transact on business outcomes. 

iSpot delivers its solution in real time via intuitive and modern dashboards as well as APIs and customized analytics. iSpot.tv has hundreds of brands and all major TV networks licensing its enterprise solution and has become a trusted currency for both networks and brands. Founded in Bellevue, Washington in 2013, iSpot has offices in major cities across America.

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New DRMetrix industry study shows that during Covid-19, performance-based television advertising saved the day

If Covid taught the television advertising industry anything, it’s that performance-based metrics saved the day.   While traditional TV advertising metrics were trying to figure out how to properly count pandemic eyeballs, performance-based television advertisers were counting consumer responses and consumer actions in real time.  Joseph Gray, CEO of DRMetrix comments, “It’s amazing when during a huge media disruption you have one sector of the industry that has 20/20 vision.  Performance-based television advertisers could see what was really happening with their TV advertising investment and KPIs in real time down to the network, daypart, and creative level.  What they discovered is that response levels were at an all time high while media rates were at an all time low.  Moreover, performance-based television advertisers could measure that consumers were still responding, engaging, and buying.”

In the early fall of 2020, DRMetrix released a study regarding the impacts of Covid-19 on the direct-to-consumer (DTC) television advertising industry.  The study showed that the top 50 DTC web/mobile advertisers reduced their expenditures during the quarantine lock down period by 34% while the top 50 performance-based advertisers increased their media expenditures by an incredible 76.6% helping to save the day for many television networks.

DRMetrix’s new “Covid Edition” 5 x 5 industry study covers trends in the larger direct-to-consumer industry from 2016 – 2020 and shows the impact of Covid-19 on different classifications of the industry.  The study stands as a testament to those performance-based television advertisers who helped to sustain the industry during difficult times and profited in the process.  It also stands as an excellent case study for all of the web/mobile advertisers that have been flooding into television in recent years proving that performance-based techniques can help them make television more accountable similar to online advertising.  Gray reflects, “When advertising on television, these advertisers don’t have to give up measurement and accountability.  They can have their cake and eat it too if they discover and implement performance-based television techniques.“.

Download DRMetrix’s new 5 x 5 Industry Study by clicking here.

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When will DRMetrix monitor over-the-top (OTT) or connected television (CTV) campaigns?

This topic gets a lot of attention these days.  DRMetrix clients often ask, “When will DRMetrix monitor over-the-top (OTT) or connected television (CTV) campaigns?”.  At the moment, we can only reply, “We don’t know” but we hope this blog post will provide some clarity and perspective on the topic.

As the evolution of the smart TV has taken root, the hope has been that these, and other smart devices such as Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, etc., would be able to use automated content recognition (ACR) technology to track and confirm ad delivery at the consumer glass or device level.  Unfortunately, each OTT provider is currently operating within their own walled garden.  That is to say, that they have imposed contractual requirements that prohibit the use of automated content recognition (ACR) technology, which is required for ad monitoring.

There are a couple of basic requirements for ACR ad monitoring to work:

  1.  The smart TV or device needs a reference database of commercial fingerprints to be able to recognize specific commercials.
  2.  The smart TV or device needs to be running ACR technology to be able to compare live audio or video data against this database to find commercial matches.

Requirement 1 refers to “Ad Discovery” where technology attempts to detect ad breaks and looks for unknown ad content.  Today, human operators need to review unknown content to discover new ads from which to create unique ACR fingerprints.  When a new ad is identified, it must also be properly associated to the advertiser, brand, industry category, etc.  If advertisers decide to run unique ads for OTT and CTV campaigns, it would be difficult for companies like DRMetrix to gain access to these commercials in advance for fingerprinting purposes.   That said, it would be feasible for DRMetrix to detect OTT and/or CTV airings for existing national ads that we already have in our database.

Requirement 2 is reliant on requirement 1.  Additionally, the consumer owned smart TV or smart devices would have to be running ACR technology as this is what enables the recognition of unique ads.  Here is where the OTT companies have effectively created their “walled garden” model.  The smart TV and smart device manufacturers have to negotiate with the OTT companies in order to carry their apps.  This is currently playing out between Roku and Google’s Youtube TV where recently both parties have been unable to come to terms where Roku is willing to continue carrying the Youtube TV app.  Historically, the OTT companies have made it a requirement, as part of their contractual negotiations, that the smart devices must turn off their ACR capability once a consumer launches the OTT’s company’s app.  If the device manufacturer doesn’t agree, then they are not allowed to carry the app.  This is a struggle between opposing interests with consumers caught in the middle.  Unfortunately, this means that the smart TV or smart device is unable to use ACR (point #2 above) as a method of detecting ads being delivered to consumers through their devices.  This is a big challenge currently which is only dwarfed by the issue of consumer privacy with many consumers turning off the ACR features of their smart TV or smart device by simply opting out.  Some consumers don’t want their electronic devices spying on them and reporting to third parties the programming and commercials they are watching.  Both of these issues make point #2 above impossible which is the only way these devices can report on the commercials that are being delivered to individual consumers.

These are some of the issues that frustrate the monitoring of OTT campaigns.  CTV campaigns are somewhat similar in that they are targeted to specific consumers where one encounters the issues of ad discovery (requirement 1) and ACR ad recognition (requirement 2).  It has been difficult to determine upon ad recognition whether said ad is being inserted as part of a CTV campaign vs. a local cable or regional ad insertion.  There may be ways to solve these problems but it would require working with individual smart TV and/or smart device companies each of which would only provide a partial view of the marketplace.  The limiting factors are the scale that any one smart TV or smart device manufacturer has as well as how many of their users have not opted out of the ACR ad monitoring features.  Because there hasn’t been enough consolidation in the marketplace to date, the costs of collaborating with various smart TV and/or smart device companies continues to be cost prohibitive.  Of course, this may change in the future.

At DRMetrix, we have talked about subscribing to a variety of services and doing ad discovery and ACR ad recognition off of the OTT streams.  The problem is, DRMetrix would be one consumer of many and the ads we would see and report on would be of limited value.  For example, we could report those commercials that we discover running on our individual OTT streams but we would not be able to report on the size, scale, airings, or ad expenditures of various OTT campaigns.  As we would love your feedback on this issue, please consider leaving us a comment or question!

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5th Annual AdSphere™ Award Winners Announced

5th Annual AdSphere™ Awards

 Recognize Top Direct-to-Consumer Advertisers in 2020

AbbVie, Geico, CarShield, E. Mishan & Sons, Guthy | Renker, Luminess Direct, Ideavillage, among those taking top honors.

SAN DIEGO- (March 31, 2021) – Direct-to-consumer advertisers spent over 19.8 billion on national cable and broadcast networks in 2020.  To celebrate the industry’s accomplishments, DRMetrix’s 5th Annual AdSphere Awards is honoring the industry’s top advertisers and brands.

The awards presentation will take place at PDMI WEST 2021, where the leaders in Performance-Driven Marketing will come together in San Diego, California from October 4-6, 2021.  AdSphere Awards is the first awards program to be inclusive of the entire direct-to-consumer industry with advertisers such as Amazon, AT&T, University of Phoenix, Consumer Cellular, Universal City Studios, Discover Financial Services, Wayfair.com, Chewy.com, NortonLifelock, Carvana.com, PetSmart, and many others being honored.

“The AdSphere awards recognize best-of-class advertisers and brands across four industry classifications including brand/direct, lead generation, short-form products, and 28.5-minute infomercials,” said Joseph Gray, AdSphere Awards founder and CEO of DRMetrix.  “Direct-to-consumer campaigns achieving this level of scale demonstrate consumer popularity and best-in-class creative and media execution.  The AdSphere Awards are the most inclusive award program for the entire direct-to-consumer industry recognizing nearly 70 honorees including all of our best-of-category award recipients.”

AdSphere monitors a universe of 130+ national networks on a 24/7/365 basis.  In just over seven years, AdSphere has identified over 13,000 direct-to-consumer brands.  In addition to detecting over 600,000 infomercial (28.5 minute) airings, AdSphere has detected over 75 million spots of varying creative lengths up to five minutes in duration.  The awards recognize top brands across a wide range of industry categories representing all facets of the industry.  AdSphere segments campaigns across over 190 major categories and sub-categories. The complete list of AdSphere Award winners is online at www.drmetrix.com/adsphere-awards.html.

About DRMetrix

DRMetrix, the industry’s leading television research company, monitors over 130 national TV networks 24/7/365, tracking direct-to-consumer ads using all creative lengths including spot, 5-min, and long-form which include web addresses, mobile app response, SMS, or toll free numbers.  For more information, please visit www.drmetrix.com and be sure and download our latest direct-to-consumer industry study!

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DRMetrix expands AVS™ Service

Following the success of it’s AdSphere™ research system, DRMetrix has been introducing a host of new features for its airing verification service known as “AVS”.

Unlike AdSphere™, AVS™ can be used to track airings for brand as well as direct-to-consumer campaigns.

Agencies and advertisers are finding AVS™ to be the most cost effective solution for tracking airings across 130+ national cable networks.  Airings data can be pulled down on a near real-time basis by integrating with the AVS™ API and/or agencies can pull down airings into media buying systems such as CORE on a daily basis.  AVS™ has recently integrated with Core Connect to completely automate the process.

AVS™ allows users to subscribe to their own campaigns as well as competitive campaigns. A built in custom report generator allows users to create individual outputs for different team members.  If an agency team is working on a particular account, they can receive airings data delivered for that campaign, as well as key competitive campaigns, on a daily and/or weekly basis.  The user interface of AVS™ is incredibly easy to use allowing different team members to login and setup their own outputs without requiring IT support.

AVS™ is capable of reporting the “break type” for each airing detected on national cable networks allowing agencies to differentiate between national and local “DPI” break airings.  For compatibility, users can assign their own network codes by network and break type.  This eliminates the traditional requirement to pay for two encodings to separate airings by break type.  In fact, AVS™ doesn’t require creative encoding so there is no costly requirement to replace air tapes in order to test drive the AVS™ service!

As part of a suite of automation tools, agencies can use the new AVS™ creative upload feature to have their creatives pre-registered before going to air.  This way, airings data is immediately available.  Users can also assign ISCI codes, unique creative names, and more as part of their creative submission.

Last, but certainly not least, DRMetrix launched a new BI tool called AVS™ Dashboards.  Now, in addition to pulling down airings data, AVS™ users can visualize airings data across multiple brand-campaigns and share the interactive reporting with colleagues and clients.  Unlike expensive BI tools such as Tableau, Microsoft BI, etc., the use of AVS™ dashboards is completely free and agencies can setup as many dashboards as they desire to share internally and/or with third parties.  The framework designed for AVS™ dashboards can be completely customized by users on a fee basis.  This is a great solution for agencies or anyone who wishes to customize their own BI solution building on DRMetrix’s existing AVS™ dashboard framework.

To learn more about the new AVS™ Dashboard offering, please click to watch the video below.

For clients interested in using AVS data with Google Data Studio, DRMetrix has created the DRMetrix AVS™ Connector. Information on how to use the new connector can be found by clicking here.

Existing AdSphere™ subscribers have access to a free tier of AVS™ which allows them to monitor unlimited creatives for up to 20 brand-campaigns a year.  If users require more, they can purchase additional brand-campaign subscriptions as needed.  Rather than charging by creative, DRMetrix charges a yearly fee of either $250 or $150 for each additional brand-campaign subscription which includes reporting for unlimited creatives for 12 months.  At the $250 rate, users can switch monitoring from one brand-campaign to another at any time throughout the year.  At $150 the monitoring is limited to a single brand-campaign for 12 months.  Over the course of the year, whether a brand/campaign launches one or dozens of new creatives, all are covered under one low yearly fee.

If you would like to learn more about AVS™, or AVS Dashboards™, please contact DRMetrix at [email protected]

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AS SEEN ON TV Expenditures Explode in 2020

How about some good news for a change? 

2020 has been an historic year for the AS SEEN ON TV industry.

Despite the challenges of COVID-19, the industry has already set a new record for TV media expenditures and the year is far from over!  The following chart shows short form product expenditures for the previous 5 years compared to 2020 YTD data.

Short Form Product expenditures are already $594 million for the year.  I think we can all agree, 2020 is going to be one of the biggest years ever for the AS SEEN ON TV category which is good news considering that 2019 was a significant down year for the category.

In special recognition, DRMetrix has created a new study, “ASONTV Explodes in 2020” that we are sharing with all of our industry friends.  Click here to download a copy now.

All of this additional media going to drive retail sales to new heights for the foreseeable future!

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Covid-19 Impacts on Top DTC Television Advertisers

San Diego. May 21, 2020. DRMetrix, the direct-to-consumer television industry’s leading research company, has released a new research paper showing the impact that Covid-19 has had on last year’s top 50 DTC TV advertisers. “Over the past five years, online and mobile-based companies have increased their TV expenditures an average of 26% each year exceeding 7 billion on national networks in 2019. During the national quarantine, however, the top 50 prior year DTC advertisers have collectively reduced their TV expenditures by 33.8% over the prior year period”, says Joseph Gray, CEO of DRMetrix. DRMetrix’s research shows that not all DTC advertisers have pulled back. In fact, some have taken full advantage of higher TV viewership levels, buying more ads than ever before!

For some, it makes sense to buy during a time when rates are significantly discounted while viewership levels are at record heights. They are not alone, other direct-to-consumer sectors have dramatically increased TV buys. For example, AS SEEN ON TV product campaigns have increased their ad frequency by as much as 135% since the start of the quarantine period. This is especially impressive considering AS SEEN ON TV ad expenditures were down over 26% in 2019.

DRMetrix’s new research paper provides insights into why some advertisers are measuring success and increasing their buys while others are pulling back. A full list of the top 50 DTC advertisers for 2019 is provided along with advertising expenditures for pre-quarantine and quarantine periods compared to the prior year. The full research paper can be downloaded by clicking here or visiting www.drmetrix.com.

About DRMetrix
DRMetrix was founded by industry veteran Joseph Gray who has been in the direct-to-consumer television industry for 30+ years. DRMetrix monitors over 130 national TV networks 24/7/365 using state-of-the-art automated content recognition software. Direct-to-consumer ads for all creative lengths are tracked including spot, 5-min, and long-form which include web addresses, mobile app response, SMS, or toll free numbers. DRMetrix works with leading agencies such as Horizon Next, Havas Edge, Group M, ID Media, Ocean Media, as well as leading television networks such as A&E, AMC, GSN, INSP, and Hallmark Channels. For more information, please visit www.drmetrix.com and be sure and download our latest direct-to-consumer industry study.

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Real Time Competitive Dashboards

Coming soon!

Easy to build, real time competitive dashboards are coming!  Creating these dashboards will be free to all existing AdSphere clients.  They will be configurable within DRMetrix’s AVS system and each dashboard can be customized for specific groups of brands & creatives.   Bundled with AdSphere, AVS access includes monitoring for unlimited creatives for up to 20 brands a year.  Any of these creatives or brands can be utilized with any number of easy to create dashboards!

Please click on the image below to launch our Youtube Video overview of the types of data visualizations that will be included in the first generation of these configurable competitive dashboards!

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AdSphere’s Newest D2C Television Study

DRMetrix released its newest 5 x 5 industry study today as a revision to its prior study released at the end of Q3 ’19.  The new study includes the complete data set for 2019 and well as an updated section regarding television attribution challenges & solutions.

5 x 5 Industry Study

DRMetrix has also been tracking the recent impacts of Covid-19 on the direct-to-consumer television industry by providing a daily/week interactive tracking page on its website.

On behalf of everyone at DRMetrix, we wish safety and health to all of our industry friends during these trying times.  We will get through this together and, for those of us spending quality time at home, we hope this ‘light’ reading material will help the time pass quickly.

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Tracking the Daily Impact of Coronavirus on Television Advertising

TV viewing should be on the rise due to the coronavirus pandemic leaving millions of Americans housebound.  For direct-to-consumer television campaigns, who are able to measure consumer response and campaign performance in real time, will greater television viewership levels help to sustain the industry or will there be a pull back?  The U.S. economy relies heavily on consumer spending so how consumers respond to this type of advertising in coming days will determine the impact to this 17.8 billion dollar industry sector.  If traditional brand advertisers pull back, will we see more direct-to-consumer advertising filling the gap and, if so, what types?

To help answer these questions, DRMetrix has published a new interactive chart on its website that shows the daily airing count (ad units) for different classifications of direct-to-consumer advertising across 130 national networks monitored by its AdSphere research system.  The chart shows ad units by day beginning March 1 and will update daily.  One can see a recurring decrease in ad units on weekends which is normal.

CLICK PICTURE ABOVE TO SEE LIVE CHART
 
DRMetrix’s chart shows the ad units for different classifications of the direct-to-consumer television industry as follows:

Traditional Direct Response (“DR”) Campaigns 

(Campaigns using differing phone, web, or SMS codes in order to better track consumer results back to specific networks, dayparts, and TV creatives).

Short Form Products – Traditional call-to-order $19.95 types of campaigns.
Lead Generation – Campaigns that don’t advertise the full price of the product or service (ie: call for free information)
28.5 Minute Infomercials – Those late night program length advertisements

Brand/Direct Campaigns

(Campaigns using a single vanity phone or URL which makes it more challenging to measure the immediate impact of television)

Vanity 800 – Campaigns using a vanity 800 call to action
Web/Mobile/SMS – Campaigns that use a vanity web, mobile app, or SMS call to action

To learn more about these classifications, and historical trends over the past 5 years, please download DRMetrix’s latest industry study.

DRMetrix wishes to extend our thoughts and prayers for everyone’s safety and health during these trying times.  As an industry, we will get through this together.  Due to the cancellation of PDMI East, we will be celebrating our industry’s accomplishments, and honoring the top advertisers of 2019, at PDMI West in September.

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3/25/2020 Update – New “Cause of Change” section has been added to the report today.  For each brand classification, the top 10 daily brands are listed with the number of (+) plus or (-) minus ad units compared to the prior day.  Each brand listed includes a clickable play link.  Enjoy!

4/14/20 Update – Added toggle at top of graph to switch between daily or weekly data views.  Access historic cause of change results for any prior day or week by “clicking on” data points in top graph.  

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