Are We Ready To Take The Red Pill?

In “The Matrix,”Keanu Reeve’s character is asked if he wants to take the red pill and, as a result, see the unsettling reality of his situation.  Or he has the choice of taking the blue pill and simply staying in contented ignorance.

At the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement's recent Cross-Platform Video Measurement & Data Summit, a panelist referred to cross-media measurement as taking the red pill.  By taking it, marketers will then know the truth about how far ahead of the industry consumers are in their cross-platform behavior. But then in gaining that knowledge, they will have to do something about it.

Well, as an industry, we are not quite ready to take the red pill -- because while much progress has been made, the pill is not available to be taken.



Certainly, that’s not from lack of effort or sense of urgency. But industry players do need to do their part to make this happen.

Based on work CIMM has done, as well as the work of others, we have established four main building blocks necessary for cross-platform video measurement to advance:

  • Standardized second-by-second “census-like” data from smart TVs and set-top boxes that have been combined to create TV content and ad tuning datasets that are as nationally representative as possible;
  • Standardized second-by-second digital census data from sites and apps for content and ads that were delivered and viewable;
  • A single-source cross-media panel, or separate linked TV and digital panels, to calibrate skews or estimate data missing from large datasets; and
  • Privacy-compliant ID resolution to deduplicate reach across all touchpoints and also to create audience segments, manage ad frequency, and conduct attribution.

Again, there has been much progress in creating these building blocks, but there is also much work still needed to be done to address both technical and business challenges.

If anything, the pandemic accelerated efforts to create solutions, because marketers were -- and still are -- demanding greater accountability and efficiency in their advertising.

Still only part of bringing about the red pill is a technical challenge.  The rest is a business challenge.

True cross-platform measurement is inevitably going to bring about change. While it is difficult to foresee all the changes achieving this will generate, we will ultimately see an impact on how advertising is sold and priced.  And perhaps it will be seen as a catalyst to change in advertising itself.

And all that change is difficult to manage, especially while continuing to conduct business.

But as Keanu Reeves saw in “The Matrix,” the struggle he had to go through once the red pill was taken ultimately resulted in advancement of the greater good -- if not such a happy ending for him!

While the red pill is not ready for our industry now, it will be soon. Once it is, we will finally be able to see consumer cross-platform activity as it really is -- and undertake the changes we should make to align advertising activity accordingly.

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