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Subway Teams With Foursquare to Measure TV Ad Effectiveness

Location-technology company Foursquare wants to get in on the race to devise a better yardstick to measure the effectiveness of TV commercials.

Sandwich-chain Subway has agreed to use Foursquare’s attribution technology that measures how effective TV ads are at driving consumers to stores, restaurants and other retail outlets. The partnership helps to illustrate the growing demand Madison Avenue is putting not only on how many consumers their commercial reach – typically gauged by data providers such as Nielsen – but also on whether those ads actually prod potential customers to consider a purchase of the product being advertised to them.

The technology “allows us to have even more accountability for every dollar spent on behalf of our franchisees,” says Melissa Sutton, Subway’s director of media. By attempting to tie commercials to purchase behavior, “we’re able to gain a more holistic understanding of the role TV ads play in our broader media plan, and identify the combinations of media, channels, and creatives that drive the most return on investment.”

It is something advertisers have long said they need: proof their many 6-, 15-, 30- and 60-second commercials result in consumer activity. As the linear TV audience has dispersed among streaming video, DVR playback and many other methods of consumption, the industry is struggling to count viewers in a way advertisers will support. Despite the rise of mobile tablets and subscription video on demand, most TV networks continue to derive the bulk of their ad revenue based on the number of linear viewers their TV shows attract.  Linking ad exposure to a purchase or response could give TV networks reason to seek premiums from sponsors, said several of the executives involved in the new effort.

Foursquare has offered the technology since 2016, but the field is crowding as more advertisers obtain more granular measures of their advertising. A+E Networks, for example, last month said it would measure such elements as foot traffic, sales and website traffic in a bid to tie results to a schedule of TV commercials. AT&T’s Turner has also begun to guarantee specific business outcomes as part of ad sales.

Foursquare matches exposure to TV ads measured by a partner, Inscape, to a consumer panel.

“TV is a critical part of the media mix and being able to measure it, alongside digital, is a necessity of any solution,” says Jared Hand, vice president of national sales of Foursquare.

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