How to Effectively Measure OTT and Streaming TV


Streaming TV has experienced rapid growth over the last few years, with most households currently watching at least a single OTT (over-the-top) streaming service. Encompassing connected TV, OTT, and YouTube, this sector continues to grow and presents advertisers with opportunities to market their products. In fact, according to Nielsen, streaming viewership reached new heights in July 2022, exceeding cable usage for the first time. The milestone reinforced streaming as the top choice for TV viewers, primarily driven by the original content unavailable on broadcast or cable TV.

However, despite streaming TV’s great potential, challenges remain when it comes to measurement. Fortunately, there are effective ways to measure OTT and TV streaming. Read on to learn more.

Measurement refers to tracking audience viewing habits and targeting media buys with these platforms. With OTT and streaming TV, there are a number of metrics that you need to measure to determine how well your campaigns are performing. They include:

  • Monthly Active Users: This metric measures the number of unique users who accessed your campaign content or streamed your channel during the month. Tracking monthly active users is crucial because it allows you to determine your campaign’s reach and audience engagement. Moreover, it can be used to compare the performance of different campaigns.
  • Customer Lifetime Value: This metric measures the long-term profitability of a customer. It factors in a customer’s entire lifetime value, including their initial subscription or purchase, as well as any future purchases or referrals they make. Understanding a customer’s lifetime value can enable you to make informed decisions regarding the products or services to offer them to ensure they remain loyal.
  • Video Completion Rates: The video completion rate measures how much of your ad or video viewers are watching before turning off or clicking away. This metric is vital because suppose people are watching your ads or videos to completion; it means they are more likely to not only recall your brand but also recommend it to others. This, in turn, leads to higher conversion rates. Remember, people are more likely to watch your ads if they are sitting down enjoying a long piece of content, such as a movie, rather than a short piece of content, such as a five-minute video.
  • Engagement Rate: This metric measures how often your viewers interact with your content. Suppose you have high engagement rates; it means that users find your content and ads highly relevant. Conversely, suppose your engagement rate is low; it means you need to rethink your creativity because it doesn’t meet the expectations of your audience. Alternatively, it means you’re targeting the wrong audience, and your strategic targeting approach needs to be revamped.
  • Customer Acquisition Costs: Customer acquisition costs refers to the amount of money a business spends to acquire a new customer. Tracking this metric can help you understand the effectiveness of your OTT or streaming TV campaigns. Suppose your customer acquisition cost is high; you’re probably making little or no profit.

So how exactly should you measure these metrics to determine the performance of your OTT or streaming TV campaigns? Here’s a look at methods you could use to measure the performance of OTT and streaming TV:

Incrementality Approach

Incrementality can work out the number of customers interacting with your brand because of your marketing content. Unlike attribution, which measures the correlation between exposure and engagement, incrementality accounts for the customers who would have converted even without seeing your ad.

You can use the incrementality approach to measure the performance of your OTT and streaming TV campaigns, just as you would with digital marketing. Combining attribution and incrementality can provide a clearer picture of the performance of your campaigns, making it easier to optimize your performance.

Server Log Tracking

OTT and streaming TV providers can use the data in server logs to track the number of viewers watching a particular show or ad and the duration they spent watching that particular ad or show. Suppose a given show or ad isn’t doing well at a particular time, their airing time could be changed to a time when more viewers are likely to watch them.


Another excellent way you can measure the performance of OTT and streaming TV is by conducting surveys. Are you reaching the right audience? At what time do you have the most viewers? Which shows or ads are performing exceptionally and why? What changes can you make to not only increase your viewership but to satisfy your viewers?

Conducting a survey can help gather data such as demographic information of your viewers, their viewing habits, advertising recalls, and more that can help you determine the performance of your OTT or streaming TV and determine ways of improving your outcomes.

Use of Third-Party Measurement Companies

There are several third-party measurement companies that track various metrics to understand who is consuming which media, how often, and which media players they use. These companies use a wide range of techniques, including audio recognition technology, to collect information about what’s being watched on CTV and OTT devices.

The data gathered using these techniques can be used to understand content trends, create audience profiles, and make informed decisions on how to improve the performance of an OTT or streaming TV service.


Just like ad measurement in general, OTT and streaming TV measurement is a perennial challenge. Conversion measurement of lower and mid-funnel ad campaigns can be done, but with a lot of constraints. For instance, linking digital TV ad impressions to a digital web visit through a smartphone can be difficult.

When planning for OTT and streaming TV measurement, you should expect a patchwork set of different imperfect metrics. Ensure you minimize reliance on ad sellers for measurement and conduct evaluations after every campaign.

That said, OTT and streaming TV will only continue to grow in 2023 and beyond as networks continue to see an influx of new and streaming-first advertisers. We’ve reached a tipping point in the market where there’s no infinite supply, inventory is in high demand, and there’s value in engagement and measurement. And while traditional TV still owns the market, streaming is becoming a vital part of the overall TV business.

The bottom line is that with more ad dollars and viewing going to OTT, connected TV, and ad-supported streaming, measurement will be crucial from 2023 onwards.