Measurement In The Age Of Data and Fragmentation

Obviously cross-platform measurement in all its forms is a hot topic now, as the de-accreditation of Nielsen’s local and national TV measurement services by the Media Rating Council -- along with a highly fragmented media environment -- creates uncertainty and challenge.

Curious about what the industry as a whole was thinking on the subject, last week I reached out to the Research Wonks, a forum for those involved in media and advertising research, analytics and data science. I got so many responses, I wrote two articles on the subject -- one appearing in this publication, and the other in Mitch Oscar’s Hocus Focus newsletter.

Measurement Currency – Looking Back and Looking Forward

When they say that the past is prologue, they must be thinking of media measurement.

We’ve had a measurement currency (and by currency, I mean a standard metric that can be used as a comparison point between companies and platforms) since the beginning of media, which has helped guide the valuation of inventory to this day.



But industry fragmentation leads to uncertainty, since we have yet to agree on solutions that best address the new environment.

For Jeff Boehme, chief executive, Executive Media Consultants, the future of measurement is as fragmented as the number of platforms. "I have observed over the past ten years the industry has evolved to create and accept multiple currencies for media planning and buying out of necessity,” he noted adding: “Going forward, successful media executions now must include metrics of performance beyond age and gender to measure outcomes defined outside traditional frameworks. I believe we will continue to embrace multiple currencies, already available through various walled gardens, but need transparency and audited standards to provide the necessary confidence for longer term use.”

Howard Shimmel, president, Janus Insights and Analysis, is concerned that we can easily go off track by focusing on the past while the future looms large. “I worry that we're distracted trying to solve for 2012 research needs -- fixing linear TV currency measurement -- when what we really need to be focused on is a future state integrated planning/activation/measurement research infrastructure to incorporates all video channels: linear, addressable linear, AVOD, CTV,” he warned.

“Building that infrastructure is hard. It requires panels, first party data from walled gardens, common target audience definitions across platform, ability to integrate RF forecasts for linear and addressable media, segmentation schema that reflects the way that media is consumed,” he added.

Media Currency – Getting to a Strong Place

There are those optimists, like Radha Subramanyam, president and chief research and analytics officer, CBS, who are ready for the measurement challenge. “The media measurement industry is ripe for real market transformation,” she informed, “There are now multiple providers of trusted and high-quality data measurement across video platforms, and our own data is critical as well. The measurement marketplace is undergoing massive diversification.”

Yet, the path to currency is still open to discussion. For Michael Vinson, chief research officer, Comscore, the primacy of long standing panels that the industry has relied upon in the past may be up for discussion. “Recruited-sample panels can either be used as the foundational element of a measurement, or to add additional context to a measurement based on large transactional data sets,” he began. But, “When panel response/participation/cooperation rates are in the 10 to 20% range, we can no longer pretend that the panel is in any sense representative of the population. Moreover, media fragmentation puts severe pressure on the size of a panel, beyond what can be plausibly afforded. Therefore, panels should only be used to add context to currency measurements, which should instead be based on large-scale, passively-collected data sets.”

It stands to reason that the best way to formulate industry adoption of a media measurement currency is to gather interested experts together as a working group. Whether this is a consortium of industry organizations such as the MRC or something patterned along the lines of a European JIC, is a topic up for discussion.

As Andrew Brown of Andrew Brown Associates noted: “All vendors no matter how good their data, will need third-party verification. All players will need third-party syndicated solutions to put their first-party data in competitive context."

3 comments about "Measurement In The Age Of Data and Fragmentation".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, October 5, 2021 at 10:45 a.m.

    Good one Charlene. I would add that the reason  why different metrics are used for planning---and buying---different platforms is that few if any advertisers develop total media plans which evaluate alternative media mixes in any meaningful way. What happens, instead---and this has always been the case---is that allocations for national or local TV, magaizines, radio---sometimes---and now, digital media---CTV/OTT, etc. ---are made arbitrarily and while each is written up in its own section of "the brand's media plan", in reality "the plan" is nothing more than a collection of plans---one for each platform. As a rule. the brand's never see what the entire plan delivers with the various components interacting nor is a serious ----and different ----alternative mix presented for comparison. The only total plan stats are ad spending figures by medium and in total, laid out by month or quarter, so the brand can see how much might be cancelled ---if the need arises. Worse, the brand managers and CMOs see nothing wrong with this arbitrary and absurd system.

    Yes, I suppose there are exceptions to the rule---here and there---though I haven't seen one and I've been around for some time. All of which goes to the question of cross platform comparisons and the supposed need for a magical and truly comparable "audience metric". A lot of people think that if this quest was, somehow, successful that media plans would be greatly improved. I doubt that. Until CMOs wake up and encourage a true study of alternatives by their media not-savvy brand manager underlings and demand that the agencies become less predictable and more venturesome from a marketing standpoint in their media recommendations, little will happen. What's needed is total plan planning----not collections of plans for each platform based on arbitrary dictates.

  2. Charlene Weisler from Writer, Media Consultant: replied, October 5, 2021 at 10:56 a.m.

    Thanks Ed. Great comment and something to keep in mind.

  3. Michael Vinson from Comscore replied, October 5, 2021 at 7:59 p.m.

    It's a good point, Ed. There's a chicken-and-egg dynamic here: there isn't strong demand for a total media plan without a total media measurement, and vice versa. 

    Very good contribution, Charlene, on an important and provocative topic. 

Next story loading loading..