Understanding Attribution on Streaming Services: A Guide for Local Advertisers

09.12.2023 Sara Brasfield5 min

The market for advertising on streaming services has exploded in recent years.

As businesses increase their investments into streaming, accurate attribution becomes all the more important. Compared to other marketing and advertising channels, though, attributing ROI for streaming ads can be a complex process affected by your data collection practices, your ability to match ad exposures to individual households, and many other factors.

If you want to maximize the value of your streaming ad campaigns for your business, you’ll need to understand the ingredients to successful attribution—including how accurate attribution can improve your future streaming ad campaigns.

What is Streaming Attribution, Anyway?

Streaming attribution, also known as OTT attribution, is the process of measuring ad campaign performance on streaming platforms. A similar approach to attribution is used across many different digital advertising and marketing channels, all of them aimed at understanding the true value of an ad campaign’s performance relative to its role in generating new leads, sales and other conversions.

Streaming attribution offers data-rich attribution capabilities. By combining streaming data analytics with ad delivery and tracking at the household level, streaming attribution can be added to the estimated ROI of linear TV attribution with specific and accurate ROI figures backed with performance-tracking analytics.

How Does Attribution Work on a Streaming Platform?

Streaming attribution practices may vary from one partner to the next. Below, you’ll find the process that Cox Media uses with our clients-

  1. The Cox Media team partners with a client to determine target audience. For website attribution, we will set up a Pixel on the client’s website for tracking purposes and for footfall attribution, we will identify geo-fencing boundaries around specific physical locations.
  2. The target audience sees the client’s advertisement on a streaming platform.
  3. The target audience engages with the client’s business by visiting the client’s website or the client’s physical location within 30 days of seeing the advertisement.
  4. Transparent reporting allows for measurement of target audience engagement.
  5. The report is evaluated by Cox Media, who will then share it with the client and together we will work to optimize and maximize campaign effectiveness.

Again, this specific process may vary depending on the media partners and other vendors you work with.

What Are the Challenges of Understanding Streaming Ad ROI?

For all of the potential value of streaming attribution, there are many potential obstacles and pitfalls that small business leaders should be careful to avoid. The most common challenges to streaming attribution include the following:

  • Tracking consumers across touchpoints. In a cookieless advertising environment, tracking streaming audiences can be a tricky endeavor. OTT streaming, connected TV and other streaming channels can offer a disjointed ecosystem for consolidating data and tracking consumers through identifiable data. Local advertisers need to work with media partners that have the right tools and strategy to minimize and eliminate these data gaps, improving your ability to identify consumers through attribution.
  • Ensuring data privacy compliance. Increasing data privacy regulations are setting new parameters for how consumer data can be used in streaming attribution and online tracking of users. As your business seeks to improve attribution, you also need to be confident that your attribution process is maintaining compliance at all times. If not, you could be subject to penalties.
  • Achieving attribution you can trust. The quality of your streaming attribution can be threatened by many possible missteps. Gaps in your data, or collection of the wrong data, can compromise your attribution efforts. Unproven attribution processes could deliver insights that aren’t reflective of your true streaming ROI. An inexperienced media partner may not know the difference between any of these shortcomings, causing you to optimize your future streaming campaigns based on bad guidance from poor attribution insights.

Who Can Help Me Improve Attribution for My Streaming Ad Campaigns?

Streaming attribution is possible, but it takes an expert to make sure the correct methods are used to achieve accurate, insightful attribution. Because of this complexity, small businesses can benefit greatly from working with a trusted media partner with demonstrated streaming attribution expertise.

At Cox Media, we have the digital tools and the depth of experience needed to measure streaming attribution and optimize future streaming ad campaigns. Looking for streaming attribution help? Contact us today to learn more.

About the Author

Sara Brasfield

Sara is a Marketing Manager on Cox Media’s corporate team in Atlanta, with a passion for writing and delivering relevant insights for advertisers. With more than nine years of experience in B2B marketing, Sara aims to help Cox Media’s current and future clients connect with their customers find new and unique ways to grow their business. Outside of the office, Sara loves spending time running, reading, and supporting her favorite sports teams (Go Braves & Gamecocks!).

View All of Sara Brasfield's Blog Posts

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