CIMM Summit Day 1 Impressions: 'Willfully Being Misrepresented?'

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, February 17, 2022

The Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement’s (CIMM) Converged TV Measurement and Data Summit kicked off Wednesday, showcasing how marketers and networks are testing novel new solutions to address some long-standing concerns over existing measurement.

The need for convergence or agreed equivalences in resulting metrics for meaningful ad planning, buying, and selling was evident.  

The summit also formally introduced the new CIMM Managing Director Jon Watts, a fellow Brit, and media research guru in his own right.  

In the last session of the day regarding, “How to Incorporate ‘Quality Metrics’ into Cross Media Measurement,” CBS Chief Research and Analytics Officer Radha Subramanyam raised a wide industry concern about media metric terms that are being “willfully misrepresented,” most notably impressions.  

This basic term certainly has had many different definitions and interpretations inferred by industry experts addressing changing video measurement landscape during the first day of CIMM’s two-day event.

I agree with Subramanyam’s characterization that the term “impressions” has become pervasive, but also nebulous.

Does it refer to “viewable impressions,” which only concern the delivery and rendering of content on a screen?  Or does it refer to an opportunity-to-see an ad by a target group?  Or does it refer to contact or actually looking at an ad by a person measured via “eyes-on” measurement technology?  Or does it refer to the impact of an ad on a person paying attention to the brand’s creative message?  

Per Subramanyam, each of these “impression” definitions have significantly different values for brand advertiser and the media agency.  

NBC Universal President & Chief Business Officer of Global Advertising Partnerships Krishan Bhatia opened the day suggesting the industry is headed for multiple currencies as being tied to a singular TV/video currency (Nielsen) that is outdated.  If he is right, how the industry transacts ad placements will change?  But is he right?

Who is going to establish the “exchange rates” for such multiple currencies?  Will currencies be based on impressions?  And if so, which ones?  Persons or audiences with an opportunity-to-see?  Contacts?  Impacts?  Brand sales?  Will this just create even more confusion in the ad marketplace?  Does that serve the media buyers or the sellers?

NBCU has launched its own “Measurement Framework – Look Book,” which it has shared with the industry and for which it is seeking industry inputs and collaboration.  It specifically attempts to address the huge challenges of converged or cross-media TV/video measurement.

As ads are moving away from “traveling with a program,” NBCU Executive Vice President-Measurement and Impact Kelly Abcarian – an ex-Nielsen executive – said she expects measurement to ultimately be by-the-second in any context, on any platform, for any target of persons (not devices as such), “my consumers,” and will likely focus on results for brand advertisers.  

When did “outcomes” become a “media measurement?”

Creative is the driver of impact, and the media platform is only, but importantly and synergistically, the vehicle that provides the lever for the creative to drive the ad impact?  

Association of National Advertisers Executive Vice President-Measurement Nathalie Bordes reported that the association’s cross-media measurement initiative is focused on, “How many people are reached and how often.” 

The approach is in testing and the ANA is wrestling with the validity of virtual IDs as a means of de-duplicating a person’s exposures or contacts in order to improve reach and frequency estimates.  

Bordes said the second stage of this effort will be relating media measurement to outcomes.

While that unquestionably is the bottom line for advertisers, it would surely be campaign measurement, not media measurement?  As media maven John Grono has opined, brilliant creative can overcome a rubbish media plan, but never vice versa.

Video Advertising Bureau (VAB) President-CEO Sean Cunningham also made the case for the bureau’s “Measurement Innovation Task Force,” focusing on his member’s concerns about Nielsen’s “repeated systematic undercounting.”  While this critique may not be as egregious as the VAB has suggested, the bureau appears to have the opportunity to be a unifying force to move many of these extraordinarily complex technical measurement innovations forward.  

Media Rating Council (MRC) CEO and Executive Director George Ivie noted MRC accreditations of these various initiatives is unquestioned in the industry and matter more than ever as it will bring trust and confidence in the quite different integrated methodologies being pursued and their resulting metrics.  

Based on industry concerns with confidence and standard errors in any resulting metrics estimates, Ivie noted that standard errors are only possible based on probability samples – and with 100% response rates – which rarely exist in surveys anymore.  Consequently, he said the MRC is examining other means to understand error in reported findings.  

I would suggest that MRC is significantly underfunded and I would echo Ivie’s plea: “It’s never been a better time to belong to MRC.” 

2 comments about "CIMM Summit Day 1 Impressions: 'Willfully Being Misrepresented?'".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, February 17, 2022 at 11:30 a.m.

    Tony, there's no doubt that the term "impressions" is being misrepresented by many parties---but, especially, by some of the audience research companies, themselves. Many of the smartset panel folks use the words homes and viewers interchangeably when citing "impressions" and the assumption that these represent actual ad viewings is wide spread.

    As for the use of many metrics instead of one, that's fine providing you can determine which one is most accurate for each aspect. For example, are we heading for a situation where the average commercial "audience' as reported by Nielsen for a show  is 3.5 million viewers while source B claims that it's 7.9 million and source C thinks its 1.8 million? And all three claim to be measuring the same platforms?That seems like a chaotic approach for sellers and buyers.

    As for using one source for audience and another for attentiveness or "outcomes", that requires great care. If your source for outcomes doesn't really match the one you pick for audience in its audience findings---that makes it suspect---doesn't it?

    Finally, re "outcomes" LOL on that one advertisers. The sellers---unless they are idiots----will never be able to guarantee brand by brand "outcomes" on a realistic basis. Instead, they will hedge their bets, based on known ranges for each type of outcome---to make sure they they"deliver" 90% of the time---and they will charge much higher CPMs for the "risks" they are supposedly taking.

  2. Tony Jarvis from Olympic Media Consultancy, February 17, 2022 at 2:18 p.m.

    Ed:  Brilliant observations and examples as always!

Next story loading loading..