New Patent Ties Sales to Specific TV Ads

  |  July 18, 2014   |  Comments

With a new technology recognizing television-generated conversion, AOL's hopes to blur the line between digital and television advertising.

AOL-owned has secured a new patent allowing it to tie consumer sales to specific television advertisements.

Named US Patent No. 8,768,770, "System and Method for Attributing Multi-Channel Conversion Events and Subsequent Activity to Multi-Channel Media Sources," the process will involve a system trained to recognize conversions from television and based on those learned patterns, deduce the probability of future conversions.

Sales will be measured against an audience that is both marketed to and not marketed to. By studying the net change within those groups, the system will allow for more real-time analytics, when that data had traditionally been available on a quarterly or annual basis.

Paired with Convertro, a recent AOL acquisition that uses online tracking for marketing attribution,'s new technology can help companies see exactly how their advertising translates to revenue.

Beyond traditional age and gender metrics, this enables advertisers to not only understand how their TV or digital advertising is driving sales, but have a much more unified view of their investments across these marketing channels, says Dan Ackerman, senior vice president of programmatic TV at

"This is about finding value and greater impact with their advertising, regardless of marketing channel: TV, digital, mobile, and everything in between," Ackerman says.

Enabling this online conversion attribution is as simple for companies as putting conversion-tracking script on their websites.

Without cookies and last-click, the specifics of television advertising have always been very speculative. But's technique will make that clearer, tracing a purchase not only back to an individual ad, but to a specific airing. This will help marketers plan how much of their budgets to allot to television and optimize the most effective ads.

"When you have the ability to connect with our screens, you debunk the old John Wanamaker quote," says Eric Wheeler, chief executive (CEO) of 33Across. Wanamaker, a 19th-century marketing pioneer, famously said, "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The trouble is, I never know which half."

"[But] that's going away and [we're] really getting to the level of granularity that determines what's driving sales," says Wheeler.

The new technology, which is already available through's buy-side platform, Audience Path, fits neatly with another patent. Precision Demand, a television ad-targeting company which bought in May, secured a patent earlier this year based on using set-top box data to automatically target television ads to high-probability buyers.

Wheeler thinks these techniques can eradicate the line between online and television advertising and unify the two, which is the company's goal.

"It speaks to how early we are in digital marketing," he says. "There's so much more exciting stuff that's going to happen in the next 10 years – it's a great place to be if you like change."

Image via Shutterstock.

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Mike O'Brien

Before joining the ClickZ team, Mike O'Brien was a reporter for newspapers in Brooklyn and Eugene, Oregon, where he earned a Master's degree in journalism from the University of Oregon. Having also worked in newspaper sales, Mike enjoys writing about marketing and advertising much more than selling it.

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