Audience Measurement Struggles To Keep Up With Changing Viewing Behavior

At a 4As Conference session discussing the changing media landscape, panelists agreed that the industry needs to vastly improve upon legacy measurement. With multiple channels and devices, migration from aggregate to person-level marketing, and silo'ed environments, the advertising industry continues to struggle with tracking viewing behavior.

"It's sad to say that something as simple as C3 (the TV viewing metric that includes three days of recorded playback) has outlived its usefulness," said Turner Broadcasting’s Howard Shimmel whose company's portfolio includes CNN, Cartoon Network, TNT, TBS and HLN, among others. "We have a third of viewers watching something beyond seven days,” he said.

And demographics have outlived their usefulness, added Shimmel. Age and sex metrics no longer help sell products.

"It is rocket science to get it usable," said The Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement's Jane Clarke. "At least there is a common vision where this is going. What we need is scale and exposure data and match them to data sets. Use that for targeting, optimization in real time. People know what they want."



The challenge, however, is that there are gaps in this vision. There is inaccurate data. Identity linking that doesn't actually link data. "It's always going to be incomplete if you can't add video going out in Google and Facebook," says Clarke.

Currency for advertisers is no longer individual programs. "The schedule matters, not the individual spot," says Shimmel, meaning that clients need to program for a set of larger goals using a brand's various platforms rather than place a 30-second spot, say, during Anderson Cooper 360.

Networks should come to advertisers with a broader perspective. CNN isn't just the linear network, but also digital, mobile, and social media platform. Clients have to say “here is what I am trying to reach,” Shimmel suggests and develop a strategy from those goals.

Walled gardens—platforms like Google and Facebook that share very little data--are at odds with marketers across all perspectives. "The great thing for the industry is that it is taking [that issue] on in a way," said comScore's Aaron Fetters. "It wouldn't have happened if we hadn't put our foot down. But we can't stop there. Just getting viewability and brand safety won't get us there if we don't understand brand impact."

It’s critical to have third party measurement for all viewing sources, says Starcom's Amanda Richman, as it’s the only way to get the full picture. "How did we drive sales? We want to understand and how we can better activate it. Each of us tries to forecast the market. How do you do it?"


1 comment about "Audience Measurement Struggles To Keep Up With Changing Viewing Behavior".
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  1. John Grono from GAP Research, April 8, 2017 at 3:51 a.m.

    I agree with Jane's comment - it IS rocket science.

    In fact, I would so far to say that cross-media measurement that encompasses all the main media is not likely.   Before you freak out I deliberately said 'measurement'.   I do however believe that cross-media modelling will be possible.

    But to make it likely, there are a few components missing.

    First, is a single unit of measurement (viewer, reader, listener, user etc) the same (in quantity, not quality as that is content and ad specific) in each of the individual media currency measurements?   I'd probably say close buy no cigar.

    Second, who will fund cross-media?   Each medium funds its own measurement at the moment to around 75%-80% with the remainder being borne by the media agencies.  Each medium sells just its own medium and cross-media would be an impost especially on smaller media.

    Third, who will get the most benefit from cross-media?   The advertiser.   Has anyone asked how much they are willing to put in the pot to pay for it?   I know the historical amount when individual medium 'silos' were measured (not a lot if any), but I am more interested in the future funding commitments.   Would a (say) 1% levy on all media invoices which is pooled pay for it?

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