AOL has set its sights on making TV advertising a lot more data-driven by securing a key patent for tracking the performance of commercials after they have hit the screen.

The media giant has received clearance from the US Patent and Trademark Office for Patent No. 8,768,770, which will allow – AOL’s very own global ad marketplace – to develop advanced tracking systems in the television ad space.

Early reports suggest the technology could enable marketers to gauge whether their spots are driving people to a website, into stores or even straight to an online checkout.

Dan Ackerman, senior vice president of Programmatic TV at, is backing the new system to strengthen TV’s relationship with digital and accelerate the shift towards a more efficient way of grading ad performance.

TV gets clever

Unlike online video advertising, where brands can track where consumers go after they view their content, claims TV advertising and its lack of ROI tracking systems is creating “an unsolvable labyrinth” for brands.

Officially a division of AOL Platforms, the company has conducted extensive research into ROI measurement techniques across various forms of advertising, including web, linear TV and mobile video.

The group even claims that marketers already have the data to track TV campaign performance, but it seems they are waiting for a solution to bring all of their insights together.

“TV is evolving: today, massive amounts of set-top box data are available for TV buyers and sellers that allow for greater ad opportunities and insights about an ad’s effectiveness,” said Brendan Kitts, chief scientist at

“The implications for TV advertisers in terms of their ability to measure quantitative sales performance, optimise and increase their ROI are profound.”

Accuracy and accountability

Headquartered in San Mateo, California,’s prime focus is to facilitate the purchasing and planning of video ad trades in real time.

Securing patents for TV ad tracking technology is not unknown to and its data-driven TV ad targeting arm, Precision Demand.

In January 2014 the latter received permission to help advertisers leverage buyer targeting, the practice of mining set-top box data to deliver highly targeted TV ads to potential buyers.