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."