As a journalist who began covering the ad biz in the quaint age of traditional media, one of the first things I learned about media planning and buying was that it was all about reach -- and at least in those days, optimal frequency.
So when I began covering digital, I would ask advertisers and agencies how they planned and bought digital, sometimes direct or sometimes programmatically. And I was told they were buying “uniques.”
So I asked them, how do you know they’re unique? I was being flip, but I was also trying to make a point -- because unlike a traditional medium like TV, where there was an explicit Nielsen “universe estimate,” and the allocation of GRPs (gross rating points) could be used to calculate reach and frequency, there was nothing like that in digital.
Advertisers and agencies were simply buying the monthly uniques of individual publishers, ad networks, etc., but they didn’t actually know how unique -- or incremental -- that audience reach actually was.
That, of course, led to controlled frequency of digital ad exposure, wear-out and frustration from consumers and marketers alike. But is also made it difficult, if not impossible, for digital ad buyers to calculate the true ROI of audience reach.
Over time, digital media created proxies by creating relatively unique identifiers -- browser cookies, device IDs, etc. -- and a slew of models in an effort to fix the problem, which needless to say led to another problem: consumer privacy and data sovereignty that has come home to roost.
So it will be interesting to see how Nielsen’s “One” platform will address that -- at least for its version of an integrated cross-platform TV/video measurement service -- which I assume will have universe estimates, as well as reach and frequency curves.
But recently, I’ve been seeing a number of creative data approaches designed to “de-duplicate” audience reach in a way that seems reminiscent of the advertising and media marketplace I first began covering in the early 1980s.
One was unveiled last week by Interpublic’s Kinesso unit, the data and technology division that was spawned following Interpublic’s acquisition of Big Data giant Acxiom.
While any big consumer data platform worth its salt tries to de-duplicate ad exposure and reach, Kinesso has developed an “intelligent identity” method that seems like a pragmatic, as well as a media neutral solution.
Dubbed Kii (pronounced “key”), the solution licenses data from a cross-section of the best audience identity partners, utilizing a “cascade syndication” model that effectively de-duplicates their unique reach as it ingests the data into its system.
Even better, Kinesso’s Kii utilizes a “pre-match” method that ensures it only acquires -- and pays for -- unique new identities that are added into its database, ensuring that its also cost-effective and cuts out any fat and redundancy.
Although officially unveiled only last week, Kii has already been operational with big Interpublic clients, and Kinesso’s team estimates its already generating as much as 20% improvements in campaign reach delivery.
Another interesting pitch I got about reach and de-duplication wasn’t about media exposure, per se, but it also came from a company named Nielsen -- NielsenIQ the consumer marketing data giant that was spun off from the media measurement version of Nielsen this year.
The new NielsenIQ service, dubbed Omnisales, claims to be the first to enable consumer goods marketers and retailers to attribute -- and de-duplicate -- sales across online, in-store and curbside pick-up transactions.
While it’s not exactly the same as calculating the reach and frequency of media exposure by de-duplicating audiences to calculate incremental reach, NielsenIQ’s Omnisales effectively is doing the same thing for another media channel: physical and digital retail destinations.
And while the company hasn’t actually created reach and frequency modeling for brands and retailers utilizing the platform, it is something the company is looking at, according to Harvey Ma, senior vice president-consumer and retail performance at NielsenIQ.
“Understanding sales and share from this perspective is fundamental to doing business today,” he says, adding, “Consumers’ behavior has irreversibly changed and we will only see exponential growth in the number of those who shop online, in store, or via click-and-collect — and any combination of the three.”