Commentary

Disrupting The Existing Cross-Media Measurement Paradigm Is The Way Forward

  • by June 6, 2014

Media and advertising (and the consumer) is fast tracking towards an always on, multi-screen environment: watch-what-you-want-when-you-want-how-you-want. Between desktops, laptops, smartphones, tablets, OTT devices, gaming consoles and (albeit nascent emergence of) smart TVs, TV is sharing the stage and consumer attention with an increasing number of screen-based devices, which presents both challenges and opportunities to brands and agencies.

Marketers and agencies have the potential to run fully integrated campaigns across screens to reach consumers (and get their attention) with a message anywhere, anytime during the decision journey. Achieving marketing and advertising objectives is a matter of reaching the right audience with the right message via the right device at the right moment -- location is everything.

However, they’re challenged with effectively planning, buying, delivering, tracking, targeting, measuring, attributing ROI and optimizing cross-screen advertising campaigns. While the industry has evolved at a rapid rate, the measurement standards, systems and currencies have not evolved, kept pace and followed consumers across multiple screens and devices -- i.e. the consumer is (significantly?) ahead of the current measurement and reporting capabilities. 

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I’ve said this previously and I’ll say it again: Measurement is paramount to the context of media and advertising, particularly in this multi-screen landscape. Good measurement leads to discovery. Incomplete measurement can damage any effort. Bad measurement leads to mistakes.

There are now (at least) four (major) disparate measurement realms -- traditional TV, digital, mobile and social -- compounding the measurement challenges. To truly take advantage of and fully embrace the opportunity served up by multi-screen, advertisers, agencies and media owners crucially need to prove that integrated multi-screen campaigns deliver value and ROI. Marketers and agencies need windows into the specifics of each consumer’s encounters and interactions (uniquely and synergistically) with each screen, as these touchpoints fall in different places along the decision journey. Therefore, measurement needs be all encompassing (exposures, attitudes and actions) to accurately provide a holistic view of the consumer's decision journey across all screens.  

Ultimately, marketers and agencies want to know whether their advertising campaigns were effective, and why and how -- it basically comes down to results, conversion and ROI. Marketers and agencies are typically measuring and evaluating their cross-screen campaign effectiveness and impact by using patched-together methodologies and metrics (because no method or metric can stand alone) from various sources to determine who it’s reaching, how it’s resonating, and consumers’ reaction.

  • Audience Delivery and Exposure (viewable impressions, reach, frequency, GRPs, and only/only/both)
  • Brand impact (awareness, message recall & association, imagery, perceptions, attitudes, favorability, consideration, likely to recommend, intent to seek more information, purchase intent, etc.)
  • Actions and Engagement (dwell time, view rate, completion rate, clicks, conversion rate, interaction rate, site traffic, brand searches, downloads, etc.)
  • Social Media (brand, product & commercial: buzz generation, chatter/comments, conversations, mentions, reach, frequency, velocity, reactions, emotional response, likes, fans, friends, followers, shares, etc.)
  • Store Visits/Traffic
  • Sales (trial, repeat purchase, preference, brand switching, etc.)

The entire ecosystem needs to change from being very siloed and screen-focused to very consumer-focused. We need to take a screen agnostic, viewer-centric approach, from campaign planning and delivery through to measurement and optimization. Developing standard, consistent and unbiased multi-screen measurement -- that doesn’t dilute what makes each screen unique -- is a critical enabler to truly effective closed-loop decisioning process. Without a holistic, integrated measurement framework, we’re going to continue to rely of decisions that verge on guesswork and waste valuable resources (time, money, people, tools, etc.) trying to (unsuccessfully):

  • Account for wherever, whenever, and however media is consumed
  • Plan, track, measure, analyze and optimize ads and audiences across screens
  • Measure the incremental and synergistic effects and impacts of screens

Although there is greater sense of urgency to solve this mess and complexity, the reality is, it’s not easy to create, implement and adopt a viable, uniform and more precise (industry-backed) measurement system (with reliable and capable set of metrics) that is consistent, comparable, and combinable across all screens. There are issues and challenges of:

  • Cost, technology, scale and the actual desire to tie together the pieces of the puzzle
  • Different measurement solutions that reside in separate silos based on fundamentally differing (and proprietary) data collection methodologies, weighting schemes and reporting metrics
  • Simultaneous activation of levers confounds readability of the cause-effect relationship.
  • The data and information being sometimes incomplete and contradictory

Reliable, standard cross-screen measurement will take time to create and will require advertisers, agencies, marketing/ad tech companies, data, research and measurement companies, major industry execs from the TV, online, mobile and social world and more to align on a clear, practical set of terms, definitions, best practices, methodologies and metrics.

In an increasingly fragmented media landscape, measurement issues will continue to create complex challenges as we try to keep up with the evolving dynamics of consumer patterns and viewing behavior. To ensure that measurement evolves to meets the growing demands to follow consumers from point of contact to point of purchase, we’ll have to perform a careful balancing act of focusing on core elements and extending the breadth and depth of measurement, deciding when to jump forward without fully mastering a particular screen or device (if this is even possible). 

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