ARF Talk: Google Stalks Research Walk, May Balk On Accreditation
Their answer: somewhere between maybe and no.
The potential reluctance caused a stir among some researchers--who, along with some marketing executives, place a premium on whether a service has received accreditation by the MRC industry arm.
At the Advertising Research Foundation measurement conference Wednesday morning, a Google executive gave a presentation about the capabilities of the TV Ads service--which provides a detailed next-day report on where an ad ran, how many impressions it received, and viewer tune-in levels over the course of a particular spot via second-by-second data.
The presenting executive, Keval Desai, a director of product management, then fielded questions. On came a simple and pointed one about submission of TV Ads to the MRC for review.
In his response, Desai was noncommittal, saying he didn't have a point of view on whether the MRC would be the best evaluator, but that Google was "open for scrutiny."
That came after Google executive Wayne Lin was asked a similar question the day before about Google's new Ad Planner service, which looks to direct buyers to Web sites that dovetail with their target audience and could even help determine ads' potential reach.
Lin, too, was uncertain about an MRC process.
Desai and Lin did not return calls seeking comment, and an email to Google was not immediately returned.
Debate over the value of MRC accreditation for a research/buying tool can take on an art versus commerce dynamic, in that researchers seek the assurances that accreditation brings, while some buyers are merely interested in the end results.
The audience question Wednesday about TV Ads and accreditation came from Tony Jarvis, the head of research for Clear Channel Outdoor, who has extensive industry experience. Jarvis said he could feel the air go out of the room as the Google executive demurred on the topic.
Jarvis said later that both TV Ads and Ad Planner can offer "potentially tremendous insight." But, referring to the MRC process and Google, he said "apparently they weren't prepared to answer fundamental questions about quality."
"We need an array of databases to help offer our bosses, our CFOs and CEOs, insight to help them make good decisions," Jarvis said, "and those decisions are worth a lot of money ... one way to get a fix on data you're using is (whether it's) accredited."
Jarvis said that if Google opts not to go the MRC route, he hopes it will submit TV Ads and Ad Planner to an audit or full technical report.
"I think we can all come together on this--they're potentially a terrific partner," he said.
On Wednesday, on the panel that followed the TV Ads presentation, Ford marketing head Mark Kaline stressed the importance of MRC accreditation. He said his department doesn't have time to vet all the research tools available, and MRC approval at least provides some assurances.
Google's designs on establishing a leadership position in advertising research were evident at the ARF conference. It was the event's "platinum sponsor," and the stage, halls and registration area were festooned with Google signage and promotions that made other dominant industry players such as Nielsen Co. look circumspect by comparison.