Sorrell: Online Video Ad Growth Threatened By Faulty Measurement

WPP CEO Martin Sorrell told analysts on a Wednesday morning conference call that he’d like to see Rentrak and comScore “come together” to devise a solution for what Sorrell described as the “faulty measurement” for media that exists in the U.S. WPP has made investments in both those companies. 

Asked if he meant that the two media research companies should merge to create a new business entity, Sorrell replied that he would “welcome cooperation of any nature” by the companies to address U.S. media measurement — particularly online video measurement, whose value is being increasingly questioned by clients. Marketers are worried about viewability levels and related standards and verification issues, Sorrell said. 

Sorrell added that the current two-second viewability standard is “pretty ludicrous,” and that some clients are rolling back their commitments to online video because they can’t justify the investments based on current measurement and verification standards. 



There is “great concern” among clients, Sorrell said. “The value from online video is becoming more and more questionable,” he said. While lack of adequate measurement is restricting the growth of the medium, Sorrell did not mention by name advertisers who have cut back their spending. But he did say that both Google and Facebook “have work to do” in making their case to clients about the value of online video.

Irwin Gotlieb, CEO of WPP media management arm GroupM, who was also on the call with analysts, added that TV measurement could also stand improvement. "TV is being damaged in its perception by poor measurement," he said.

Neither executive specifically mentioned Nielsen, the primary media measurement company in the U.S. although it was pretty clear that the criticism was being directed at that firm. Sorrell noted that Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman has been a vocal critic of the accuracy of audience measurement of Viacom's various networks. "He's right," Sorrell said.



4 comments about "Sorrell: Online Video Ad Growth Threatened By Faulty Measurement".
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  1. Darrin Stephens from McMann & Tate, August 26, 2015 at 12:56 p.m.

    Why have WPP agencies (and others) purchased online video without first vetting the measurement metrics? The fault lies not in the measurement companies, but in ourselves. We should all be ashamed.

  2. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, August 27, 2015 at 8:57 a.m.

    For anyone who has read Malcolm Gladwell's book, Blink, two seconds is plenty of time.

  3. Mike Agovino from Courtside Entertainment, August 27, 2015 at 10:42 a.m.

    The criticism of digital measurement methods seems to have intensified over the past 12-18 months while the acceptance of antiquated and inflammatory broadcast measurement methods continues. 

    The "truth" is indeed elusive but with the good work of IAB, MRC, 4A's and others standards are being adopted and service providers are being challenged to deliver transparent methodologies that meet and/or exceed these standards.

    The market is in a state of continuous improvement and reducing investment in the channels gaining migrant audience every day seems like a self defeating strategy.

    Properly vet you vendors and do business with companies and people of integrity!

  4. Tony Jarvis from Olympic Media Consultancy, August 27, 2015 at 12:29 p.m.

    Back in 1999, Erwin Ephron wote a piece entitled, "The Toll-Road Called Nielsen - The high cost of data makes us all a little dumber."  Despite the on-going diligent efforts of MRC, audience measurement in the US is generally "faulty" (to Irwin Gotlieb's point, notably TV and especially Spot TV), lacks comparablity at the ad/program exposure level and consequently cross media metrics harmonisation so critical for meaningful multi-media campaign planning.  WPP is fully aware of the benefits of a JIC - Joint Industry Commitee - structure and approach to media measurement - which have consistently delivered cost effective value in the rest of the world and which are perfectly legal in the US contrary to poular belief, e.g. TAB.  So perhaps Sir Martin and WPP, who are certainly far from dumb, in co-operation with 4As & ANA will finally lead our industry in the US to much higher quality harmonized audience measurement at significantly reduced costs via JICs?  I tried to introduce this approach to the US industry in co-operation with major advertiser clients when I worked for Sir Martin at Mediacom.   The time for re-structuring here is long long over due.  I look forward to Sir Martin's forthcoming US media measurement annoucements! 

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