CANNES, FRANCE — It’s that time of year again — industry leaders, experts and spectators flock to the South of France to celebrate and revel in the best and brightest in creativity. However, as they gather to laud the industry’s best product, we can’t forget to ask: How exactly are we measuring this Lion-winning work?
Creative has evolved immensely over the past several years. It used to be that creative was made for a single platform – 30-second spots created exclusively for TV or ads only meant for digital. However, as consumers have become more agile, bouncing between platforms and devices in a blink of an eye, creative has been forced to evolve with them.
Today’s award-winning creative work is not married to a single platform. Rather, it embraces modern, omnichannel strategies to engage with consumers throughout their omnichannel journey.
By telling their story across platforms and devices, brands are able to insert themselves into the lives of consumers at multiple touchpoints and in more authentic ways.
Much of the conversation at Cannes this year has centered around how we prove the value of creativity. Yet as we look to trace the efficacy of powerful creative across the rapidly transforming data-driven, tech-enabled media landscape, our measurement capabilities have not evolved at pace with the rest of the ecosystem.
We’re now facing a conundrum in terms of how we properly measure content performance across the complex consumer journey.
Originating in the mid-'60s and '70s, the industry’s measurement answer was media mixed modeling, designed to provide insights into a marketing mix’s overall performance and effect on sales. While this methodology worked half a century ago, it wasn’t designed to work within the context of today’s media landscape.
Media mixed modeling lacks the complexity needed to provide deep consumer insights, as it does not factor in the omnichannel consumer experience. Without the consideration of user-level engagements, such as impressions or clicks, media mixed modeling is simply not flexible enough to be inclusive of new creative models, like branded entertainment or media-based content.
What blossomed from media mixed modeling’s shortcomings is multi-touch attribution, our modern-day measurement solution developed with the consumer’s journey in mind. In theory, Multi-Touch Attribution sounds like the perfect solution – it takes into account the fragmented marketplace and tracks consumers on different platforms, but in practice, the model still lacks a holistic scope to track a true consumer experience and report back key findings.
Multi-touch attribution ’s understandings are primarily surface level – communicated via digital executions, time spent with content, and clickthroughs. We still find ourselves unable to connect data sets across the digital walled gardens, hindering us from connecting the consumer journey to meaningful insights. Not only are these measurement limitations found across social and digital platforms, but they extend into the linear TV/OTT experience as well.
Currently, we lack the ability to connect multiple data points into a single platform, preventing us from better understanding consumer engagement and attitudinal behavior shifts that may impact brands.
While some publishers and third-party providers are waking up to the need for an omnichannel measurement solution, many of their solutions are restrictive – limiting insights to either their own channels or their own medium, such as digital or TV. This prevents us working with partners outside of those systems, limiting our overall reach and consumer engaging opportunities.
Even with the data coming from multi-touch attribution, it’s not being applied to media mixed modeling, and the lack of connectivity does not allow for a holistic analysis of the impact creative has on the consumer and brand. To solve for this, we need to break the wheel and create a solution to account for the whole individual, household and device-based ecosystem that we work within to prove the true value of content.
As we look to the next frontier of creativity, we need an industry wide approach or platform that can tie exposure and conversion across an omnichannel solution at the identity level, but is flexible enough to account for creative needs of the brand.
Small but positive steps in the right direction are being made as we speak.
At Cannes earlier this week, Comcast, Charter and Cox announced the formation of an industry consortium called On Addressability. While this initiative focuses specifically on delivering addressable inventory across digital, video on demand and linear TV, it serves as a rallying cry to urge marketers content owners, and technology and measurement companies to band together to create solutions that will enable greater targeting and more efficient measurement.
Pair this with the work that groups like Project OAR are doing to address demands for better measurement techniques, and it’s clear that we, as an industry, are making progress.
Even so, as we honor the best in creative this week at Cannes, we’re reminded that we still have a long way to go. Though the work itself is indeed something to celebrate – and one can argue that great content drives every relevant KPI – we need to continue to push for high quality measurement solutions across all facets of the consumer journey as we continue to seek ways to prove the value of creativity.
—Eric Levin, Global Chief Content Officer, Spark Foundry, contributed to this article.