Fortunately, there is a path for our industry to make true cross-platform measurement a reality – one that can bring both buyers and sellers together through the use of a single, unduplicated metric on which both sides can transact.
Media companies would benefit by being able to sell against their entire audience, not just their digital or TV audience. Advertisers and their agencies would be able to plan more effectively and across screens, creating a unified media plan that leverages multiple touch points to reach target audiences rather than continuing to rely on inefficient and time consuming siloed campaign planning using unconnected data-sets.
How can this development of a single, unified audience metric be accomplished?
1. Develop a scalable way to measure across platforms. Traditional measurement panels are necessary but not sufficient for cross-platform measurement. While panels are fine for independently measuring each media platform, building a ‘single-source’ panel with overlapping samples across all measured media at a granular enough level is cost prohibitive for the industry.
Fortunately, unified methods of measurement that combine the benefits of person-level measurement from panels with the reporting granularity of census data hold the key to scalable cross-platform measurement. More importantly, this census data – such as tagged Web pages and apps in digital and set-top box data in TV – provides the granular touch points between platforms to produce audience de-duplication algorithms that work at the network, program and episode level.
This ability to de-duplicate audiences is fundamental to marketing. Advertisers want to know how many people they are reaching with their messages and how often, and media companies get paid according to how they can deliver on those propositions. Without the ability to de-duplicate audiences, accurate reach and frequency metrics remain a mystery.
Moreover, it leads to media being planned and bought in silos, which drives massive inefficiency in allocating dollars across the most appropriate platforms to effectively reach audiences. Efforts to estimate duplication are as limited as the approaches used. Passive, electronic, persons’ level measurement is the most accurate means to measure duplication. Once applied to a larger census based data-set, it unlocks the insights the industry needs.
2. Validate digital measurement to deliver a Human GRP comparable to TV. Digital measurement on the server-side can be messy. Cookies do not accurately measure audiences. Ad impression counts often get inflated due to non-human traffic. Many other ads are either delivered out-of-view, out-of-geography, or in non-brand safe environments.
Without the ability to validate server-side measurements and translate them into metrics that correspond to the behavior of actual humans, marketers can’t make decisions that align with their strategies. And perhaps more significantly, these metrics will not be comparable to TV audience metrics, which have historically met the reasonable standard of reaching humans with an ‘opportunity to see’ the advertising.
Therefore, digital measurement requires audience validation that cleans up the mess and can simplify it in terms of a single Human GRP that is comparable to TV. While the concept and usage of GRPs is not new in digital, recent advancements in viewability and NHT detection promise to make this metric even more precise, delivering a true Human GRP. An accurate Human GRP makes it easier for the industry to plan, buy and sell advertising across platforms.
3. Build a flexible system that can accommodate an evolving definition of cross-platform. As device proliferation continues – for example, Apple unveiled yet another screen with its new smartwatch – the challenges of cross-platform measurement have the potential to become more complex by relying on traditional measurement methods. By adopting a scalable system that can easily integrate new platforms into a unified view of cross-platform behavior, the media industry will be able to jump from screen to screen as seamlessly as consumers do.
This means avoiding multiyear R&D efforts to figure out how to incorporate new platforms into the mix and having the ability to quickly allocate dollars to the right media platforms. If there’s one thing we’ve learned in digital, it’s that the landscape changes constantly – why reinvent the wheel every time that happens?
Adopting this approach to cross-platform audiences and advertising enables a single metric on which media buyers and sellers can easily transact. It means media companies get paid for the full audience they deliver and advertisers can spend more wisely to achieve maximum impact from their campaigns, a natural win-win that the entire industry can rally around.