When Media 'Exposure' Is Not Audience 'Viewing' Or 'Hearing' There Can Be No Ad Outcomes!

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, November 18, 2020

After Day One of ARF’s “Attribution & Analytics Accelerator” I suggested that based on the cases presented, Attribution modelling could be doing precise things with some rather imprecise (or misunderstood or misrepresented) data, notably media data and especially all the discordant television data. 

Day Two appeared to confirm that position as data challenges of every dimension and how they are being addressed, integrated, modelled and used became clear. 

Cadillac, Regions Bank, CIMM, ANA/AIMM and the day’s sponsor Analytic Partners shared their experiences and how they are dealing with the complex, multi-dimensional data issues and its harmonization to holistically address cross platform attribution and its assessment. 

Guiding brand success via strategic brand planning for both the short and long term based on analytics is paramount for advertisers and their agencies. 



But the question appears to be, is the data any good? 

The Session Leader, George Ivie, CEO & executive director of the Media Ratings Council was well chosen considering MRC’s critical industry role that is expanding into this arena. MRC will ultimately ensure that the quality of all dimensions of “Attribution and Analytic” approaches is assessed based on on-going technical appraisals and evolving “Outcomes Measurement” Standards.  These standards are already being developed by an MRC Working Committee.  (Full disclosure I am a member of that Group.)  As Ivie stated, “What is achievable via better practices?” 

Eric Neville, senior manager, Media & Audience Strategy, Cadillac addressed, “Driving Campaign Effectiveness in a Cookieless World” with Angelina Eng, vice president, Measurement & Attribution, IAB & IAB Tech Lab.  It revealed just how much Cadillac (and no doubt GM) know about their consumers at the individual level.  Their goal is to own all the relevant data on their owners, prospects, and competitive manufacturer model target groups via extensively integrated databases.  This provides the opportunity to profile key segments and address them via optimum channels. 

Cadillac consequently takes an audience-first approach to audience activation via TV and other media platforms.  Based on the media “exposure” definitional issue that evolved, their definition of media ‘impressions’ reported would be insightful. 

Regions Bank have been using Marketing Evolution for many years to leverage an innovative solution to understand consumer attributes, cross-channel measurement and consumer-level effectiveness measurement while suffering from incomplete data sets.  Incomplete “exposure” (not clearly defined) reach and KPIs data as well as data with varied granularity stymied their measurement approach.  During their, presentation (“Cross-Channel Audience Impact Based Planning with Incomplete Consumer Data”), Alyssa W. Blair, senior vice president, regions corporate marketing, Regions Bank and Michael Cohen, Chief Technology and Data Officer, Marketing Evolution, explained how their “new solution” enables Region Bank to build, recommend and target audiences based on media “impact” without individual consumer identity resolution.  However, it must be noted that impact primarily encompasses brand and creative power at a minimum rather than being a media effect.  Alyssa underlined the value of their agency partners in assessing the optimizations and performance data. 

Howard Shimmel, President, Janus Strategy & Insights led, “Getting Attribution Right: An Exploration and Best Practices for Television Data Inputs in Attribution Modeling.” This project was sponsored by the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement, CIMM, under the leadership of Jane Clarke, CEO & Managing Director.  The issue?  Different television data streams preferred by leading modelers frequently lead to dramatically different results and business decisions.  So, what really drives the difference in attribution results? 

Regrettably, the term “exposure” took on a variety of interpretations during this presentation.  It appeared that much of the TV data currently being used in attribution models is technically described as “viewable impressions.”  This data only reflects whether an ad has been delivered and rendered to specification to a screen.  Viewable impressions are neither a media audience currency nor any measure of “viewing” by an audience with eyes-on or contact. 

Of note, the accuracy of match rates of qualified viewable impressions spots to the TV brand schedule differed significantly in this evaluation across several providers for the same campaign!  In addition, Nielsen ratings data which is also used by some attribution vendors is also shy of measuring “viewing” although it was described as, “exposure data.”  (It is opportunities-to-see, OTS, or gross impression data.)  Attribution is all about understanding outcome, of course.  However, if there is no audience “viewing” or contact, there can be no outcomes! 

“Remove Blindfold Before Targeting!” presented an outcry for greater transparency and data quality from ANA’s Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing, AIMM.  Cultural digital identity data has been a black box with unknown accuracy and coverage – essentially systemic inequities and significant under representation.  While this can be a challenge for targeting, it threatens the validity of multicultural attribution and analytics.

Carlos Santiago, Co-Founder, ANA/AIMM and President, Santiago Solutions Group and Aaron Fetters, Head of Client Development, shared the overview.  Truth{set}’s benchmarking evaluates the accuracy of individual personal data at scale and produces population segment accuracy indices.  These can range from 0.93 for sex to 0.22 for Hispanic as basic examples!  Good to know that MRC is involved in this sensitive area which will increase transparency. 

Katie deGorter, associate vice president, Analytic Partners evaluated, “The Next Evolution of Analytics for Decisioning,” in the most forthright presentation of the day.  She reminded the audience of the ongoing data apocalypse and what she suggested as, “the failed promises of multi-touch attribution which is going to get worse.”  How do organizations evolve measurement strategies in this new world with increasingly limited consumer tracking and data access, bias, reliance on siloed and partial data that exacerbate the analytic risks due to inaccuracy and therefor potentially flawed insights?  Analytic Partners embrace a holistic, integrated multi-dimensional data approach.  This basis, they believe, enables their commercial mix models (decision systems) to deliver the greatest value to brands as they do not require granular data to derive granular marketing insights. 

George Ivie’s summary and conclusions were absolutely on-point and need to be fully supported by the industry via MRC membership.  “The quality of source data is fundamental and critical.  It is often inconsistent and non-harmonized, etcetera which makes assessment extremely difficult …How Attribution is done requires a much higher level of transparency.” 

For MRC this would entail a full and detailed Technical Appendix as warranted by any model, survey, or approach.  “On-going test and control in a disciplined manner is required.” 

Stay tuned for my Commentary on Day Three – Analytics-Driven Business Results featuring cases from another four major brands. 

2 comments about "When Media 'Exposure' Is Not Audience 'Viewing' Or 'Hearing' There Can Be No Ad Outcomes!".
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  1. John Grono from GAP Research, November 18, 2020 at 6:56 p.m.

    Thanks for the update.

    A few thought starters.

    First, TV ratings were established to provide robust estimates of how many people (by demographic groupingt) tuned into a programme for the 'average minute'.   This data was used to sell advertising.   The bill is paid for by the broadcasters.

    Second, over time this has morphed into the expectation of 'eyes-on-ears-open per second'.   I 100% agree with that goal.   However, there still remains the expectation that the bill will be paid for by the broadcasters.   I also suspect that level of granularity and accuracy will cost several magnitudes more than the current TV ratings system.   I am not hearing any clamour to contribute to such funding from parties outside of the broadcaster.

    So, maybe we also work on the "who" (will pay for it) as well as the "how" (the devil will be able to do this as part of the daily currency).

  2. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, November 19, 2020 at 2:35 a.m.

    I agree, John, and have made the same point in many posts here and elsewhere. The plain fact is that advertisers who once developed their own shows and "sponsored" them---invariably in conjunction with theit agencies--- once were Nielsen subscribers. But they have gotten used to not paying for TV audience research over the many years since the TV networks took full control over their programming. On the other hand, and unlike local market TV, the prices Nielsen charges for national TV ratings---as a percent of billings---are not so high that the sellers couldn't easily foot 70- 80% of the added cost, with the agencies, program producers, etc.  paying the remainder. Ultimately, the adveertiser will pay anyway as such cost increases would be built into slightly higher CPMs.

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