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The Guide to TV Advertising Attribution

It can be challenging to determine successful television campaigns. Learn how to attribute your TV ads to gain a better overview of campaign performance.

Meredith Cunningham Published: November 7, 2023

Measuring the success of TV ads has long been a challenge for marketing and advertising campaigns. Back in the day, TV campaign success could be measured by Nielsen’s People Meters, which can tell you the reach of your ads – aka what is being viewed, at what times, and by how many people.

But we all know measuring marketing success goes way deeper than the TV viewership data that Nielsen can provide.

As a marketer, how can you know if someone visited your website or made a purchase due to viewing your advertising? How can you tell if an ad campaign improved brand recall? Do you know which ad creative is driving the best results?

Traditionally, detailed measurement – like who has visited your website after clicking on an ad – has been reserved for digital media … until now. New marketing measurement tools like TEGNA Attribution can help answer these sometimes complex and nuanced questions.

This Ultimate Attribution Guide will help your brand measure and optimize the effectiveness of marketing and advertising campaigns. We will show you how to connect the dots between linear and streaming TV ad viewing and consumer actions like website visits, app downloads, and conversions.

It sounds complicated, but it’s not as intimidating as you might think. Let’s dig in!

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What is TV Attribution?

At TEGNA, we first introduced TV Attribution in 2018 and have since described it in many ways:

  • A new level of certainty in advertising
  • A game-changing way to grow business outcomes
  • A huge opportunity for advertisers to capitalize on increased demand
  • Undeniable proof of marketing outcomes
  • A HUGE leap forward in linear and streaming TV advertising
  • The most complete broadcast and OTT attribution solution available today

 TEGNA Attribution is indeed all of these things, as it collects real-time data throughout the customer journey to connect ad viewership to real-world outcomes. 

For example, let’s say Brad bought a brand new smart TV and opted in to have viewing data collected. Later that night, he’s watching the evening news on his local TEGNA station and sees a commercial for your automotive dealership. Brad then pulls out his phone to check out the dealership’s website to learn more about the sale that was just advertised.

TEGNA Attribution collects this data to connect the dots between ad viewership and outcome metrics. It will report these connections from the evening news ad view to the website visit. But it’s not just website visits that are reported. A full report with TEGNA Attribution can provide you with the following: 

  • How many times a viewer saw an ad – and their audience segment
  • If the ad was viewed on Linear, Streaming, or both, and their unduplicated reach
  • Days of the week, dayparts or times, and in which programming ads are viewed
  • Which ad creative generates the most responses
  • KPIs include impressions, responses, reach, frequency, recency, cost per lead, and website visit. App Attribution metrics can consist of cost per install, total installs, install rate, installs over time, and share of installs measured against the share of response.
  • Which website pages were viewed, such as Directions, Sign Up, and other form fills.

Let’s say you’re running two ads – one aligned with morning news (creative A) and one aligned with the evening news (creative B) – TEGNA Attribution will report that, for example, the highest response rate is from running creative B in the evening news on Tuesday evenings.

Measure Brand Lift

With TEGNA Attribution, we can deliver data for mid-and-lower-funnel KPIs – such as website traffic increases and sales conversions – by connecting ad viewing metrics to website traffic. By adding Brand Lift Studies to the marketing mix, you can measure the impact on top-of-funnel metrics, such as brand awareness generated from a streaming campaign. 

Using privacy-safe exposed and control surveying​ tactics conducted across thousands of partner websites, two groups are incentivized to complete a survey. One group was exposed to a brand’s streaming ad; the other was not. Brand Lift is then calculated by comparing the exposed and control results to survey questions. Before Brand Lift, brands hadn’t had access to this top-of-the-funnel positioning to say, “We are driving traffic, generating leads, and growing our brand – and we can see it.”  

Armed with these data points, advertisers can pull critical insights to optimize campaign creative further. Consider it the cherry on top of the customer journey attribution funnel.

Why TV Attribution Matters

So now that you’ve collected all this data, why does it matter? What’s in it for you? All of this data allows you and your brand to make well-informed optimization decisions throughout your campaign to maximize its effectiveness, leading to the following: 

Higher ROI

One of our partners in Atlanta tested two different creative spots with their broadcast TV schedule. Using TEGNA Attribution, they found one ad outperformed the other. Using the data, they optimized their creative rotation while shifting the budget to dayparts that drove more visits to their website’s key pages. As a result, they saw an increase in website visits and a decrease in the cost per visit.

Better Campaigns

In Arkansas, one of our healthcare partners measured marketing success only by the volume of phone calls. Looking for a better way to measure success, they added TEGNA Attribution to their mix and can now see new performance metrics, such as website visits. They now know that the website has thousands of high-value page visits thanks to their streaming campaign, and they will leverage this data to create even more effective campaigns in the future.

Prove the Value of Marketing

A personal injury attorney using TEGNA Attribution connected its success to its marketing campaigns – after adding retargeting to its marketing mix, they saw more website visits to its Contact Us page than in the previous six months combined. Knowing that retargeting was such a valuable piece to the puzzle – and that Attribution proved that retargeting was moving the needle – they added two new campaigns in different markets, aiming for the same success.

Challenges with Measuring TV Success

Surprisingly, even with the growing importance of using data and measurement to make marketing decisions, a 2022 survey from Gartner found that “Marketing analytics are responsible for influencing just over half (53%) of marketing decisions.” The study also notes that the real challenge we face isn’t getting better data; it’s cognitive biases and the need to create a better data-driven culture in marketing. A few of these challenges within these groups include

Privacy Concerns

A cognitive bias that may exist – and for good reason – concerns consumer privacy. Not all consumers are receptive to targeted ads and having their data shared, sold, or profited off of. However, all data collected by TEGNA Attribution has been approved by the user when they opt-in, and there are settings for the user to opt out quickly. 

Limited Data with Third-Party Cookie Depreciation

Traditionally, in the digital world, cookies will track an online user throughout their journey and build a profile of interests to serve the user more relevant ads. However, with Google phasing out third-party cookies, marketers across the industry face the challenge of collecting enough data across websites, which could affect Attribution data.

Viewers May Act on An Ad Long After Seeing It

One last challenge is timing. While TEGNA Attribution offers data with a 7-day-look-ahead window, it sometimes takes much longer to purchase than immediately after seeing an ad. This is true for brands with a longer purchase cycle and need to include much education in their marketing and advertising materials and content.

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A Better TV Attribution Model

As one of the first media companies to market with an effective TV Attribution model more than five years ago, TEGNA Attribution offers an unparalleled measurement solution for your brand, regardless of industry. That’s because we provide the following:

  • A Single Data Stream
  • Connection Between Viewership and Business Outcomes
  • Cross-platform measurement Capabilities, Including Reach Extension, Web and App Measurement, Online Leads Generated, and other valuable KPIs critical to your brand
  • One of the Largest Local TV and CTV/OTT Attribution Measurement Capabilities
  • Five Years+ Experience
  • Brand Lift Measurement
  • Sales Conversion Attribution
  • Automotive Measurement with Polk
  • Travel and Tourism Measurement with Arrivalist

Examples of TV Attribution & Happy Brands

TEGNA Attribution provides superpowers to our partners. With this data, they make more informed decisions on their media spending to help improve outcomes in near and long-term investments. With this innovative solution, TEGNA advertisers are so confident with our data to make intelligent decisions and optimize their media plans that they share how happy they are.

Driving Great Results with Honda of Seattle and KING5

“I think I know what our customers want, and I think I know what they need. But with TEGNA Attribution, we can discover what works and what doesn’t. We can constantly tweak it, try new ideas, put new creative out there, and see what the market is receptive to,” says Tim Miller, General Manager of Honda of Seattle, who has partnered with KING5 for over five years. Read the full testimonial here.


How By The Yard Generates Results with Quirky Commercials

“TEGNA Attribution is just so exciting. We can now see our commercials on TV and know when a customer has gone to the showroom or visited our website. This will be a game-changer for us and help us hone in on our marketing efforts. We’re a growing company, and we are expanding into other markets. It’s great to have this resource and connection to buy media effectively in other markets,” says Leah Steidl with By the Yard. Read the full testimonial here.


KGW Serving Up Results with Meals on Wheels People

Meals on Wheels People has partnered with TEGNA’s KGW for five years to help ensure its vision that no senior goes hungry or experiences social isolation. Using Broadcast, Premion OTT, and TEGNA Attribution, the non-profit has been able to target donors and reach them no matter what screen they’re looking at. These tactics have increased the average donation amount, and the creative produced has even won an Emmy. Read the full testimonial here.


Final Thoughts

Learn more about how TEGNA Attribution provides deep insights to prove the value of linear and streaming campaigns and contact us today!

Frequently Asked Questions

What Does Attribution Mean in Advertising?

Which marketing channel led to a sale, purchase, or other desired action such as a form fill? Was it TV, radio, email, PPC, or social media? Attribution is the process of identifying the channel that contributed to that conversion.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What Does Attribution Mean in Advertising?

Which marketing channel led to a sale, purchase, or other desired action such as a form fill? Was it TV, radio, email, PPC, or social media? Attribution is the process of identifying the channel that contributed to that conversion.

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