Seeking Solutions To Media Measurement Complexity At ANA Event

  • by , Featured Contributor, February 16, 2023
I’m writing today from the Association of National Advertisers 2023 Media Conference in Orlando, Florida. Yes, Orlando ad conferences are back!

A topic at the top of the agenda is the fast-growing and mind-numbing complexity that has been overwhelming media measurement these past two years, and which hampers the industry’s future growth. Key complexity drivers include:  1) alternative currency testing disruption; 2) the growth of ad-supported streaming and CTV ads; 3) the fragmentation and incompleteness of solutions; and 4) the impact of Apple Tracking Transparency policy on measurement.

I don’t expect these issues to be resolved over these three days, but I am happy to see the world’s largest brands and advertisers focus on such concerns -- and the friction they are bringing to today’s ad world. Here’s what I think:

Alternative currency testing. For sure, testing new potential currencies in TV and premium video ad measurement is going to be disruptive for many in the business. Fundamentally, that’s not a bad thing. We probably wouldn’t have had the launch of Nielsen ONE without such testingt Nor would we have all of the new, more robust and granular video ad  and audience insights and attribution products that are now in the market.



Time will solve this one. Today’s craziness will lead to a winnowing of solutions, some consolidation of the new offerings, and then a re-rallying around core industry currencies.

Growth of streaming ads. Audience video viewing habits are changing fast, as TV viewers with fixed broadband at home shift to streaming video services, most of which are now embracing ads. This shift is very disruptive to an industry that has been historically siloed around linear TV and its unique methods of measurement (GRPs), transaction management (phone calls, faxes and handshakes), and campaign reporting (six weeks to several months).

Currency improvements, which include integrated cross-channel viewing and digital-like automation in planning, activation, measurement and transaction management, will solve this issue -- but maybe not until the turf wars over control over premium video budgets between linear and digital buyers are resolved.

Fragmentation. For sure, we will see more and more fragmentation in media channels. Audiences are driving that trend, and it will only get worse.

A keystone of workable solutions will be their capacity to efficiently “re-aggregate” audiences from fragmented places campaign by campaign.

Of course, the world of digital media platforms and premium video owners is dominated by walled gardens, two or three in the former (Google, Amazon, Meta) and a dozen or two in the latter group (NBCU/Peacock, Disney/Hulu, Fox/Tubi, Netflix, Amazon, etc.). So the future will be about activating campaign across those walled gardens efficiently and in a privacy-safe way. That is how the TV industry has been operating for decades, and it will be the future of a digitally driven video and digital ad world.

Apple ATT. I differ from many in the industry in my perspective on this issue. I applaud Apple, which has carved out a differentiated market and brand position that is pro-user.

We don’t need to keep sticking tracking codes on users so everyone can keep hitting them with redundant ads, with the shoes they bought following them around their browsing for months. We will find lots of ways to show more relevant and higher yielding ads without that practice, and we will become better for letting it go.

Techniques like contextual, cohort and occasionality all can deliver real relevance, protect privacy, and save consumers from device ID retargeting.

What are your thoughts on how we can solve the fast-growing issues of media measurement complexity?

6 comments about "Seeking Solutions To Media Measurement Complexity At ANA Event".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, February 16, 2023 at 4:11 p.m.

    Dave, one way to go is to slow down and look at what is really happening. Most of the supposedly  fast breaking changes---such as incresed streaming activity---are actually gradually progressing evolutions---this isn't a media version of May 1940 in northern France with the Nazi blitz sweeping aside the french  armies in a lightning blow, then racing to the English Channel and instant victory. What we are seeing is a well organized push by the major TV sellers to press Nielsen to measure all of their audiences immediately---or sooner---so they can charge advertisers for them. And I can't really blame them for that. Also, there is valid anger about Nielsen's error a few years ago that resulted in a small "undercount" of viewing---though it's likely that this unfortunate mistake has been remedied.

    As for so-called "alternative currencies" this is nonsense as the only one that will be likely standardized as the base for almost all audience guarantees will be average commercial minute---or individual commercial----"audience" with "audience" ---or "impressions"----being defined the digital way---the ad message was on -screen for two or more seconds---not that anyone watched it. The sellers will, no doubt, veto any other definition if it produces much lower numbers. We shall soon see if Nielsen's new "big data" system can provide the kinds of numbers---and stability---that the sellers desire. If so, and it gets MRC accreditation, that's probably the ballgame.

    As for the rest of the "currencies"---attentiveness, CTR rates, pupil dilations, sweat sensing, brainwave measures, share-of - market--or sales---lifts, etc. etc. assuming that all of these are properly vetted, they willl, no doubt be used selectively by individual sellers and buyers for individual brand buys when both parties believe that this is an added value. And, the sellers , will, no doubt, try to charge higher CPMs for such deals---again, I can't blame them. But it's most unlikely that any of these" currencies"  will be standardized as the "official" add-on to audience guarantees for all buys. There's too much variability in the needs of advertisers  and many sellers  would not fare well using a single, pre-determined add-on metric. Each would try to use only those that favor them---not surprisingly.

    Finally, unless the upfront concept---massive, corporate, CPM fixated, audience tonnage buys that eats up70%+ of national TV ad dollars----is abandoned---LOL on that one---there simply wont be enough ad dollars available to fuel an industry wide application of some non- audience "currency". let alone a collection of add-on "currencies".

    So let's calm down and go step by step. First step is to get the basic measurement of "audience" that we want and the right party to execute that. 

  2. Claudio Marcus from Comcast, February 16, 2023 at 4:40 p.m.

    I am with you, Dave, on embracing consumer privacy and backing techniques like contextual, cohort and occasionality, as well as geo-targeting, as together they can deliver real relevance, protect privacy, without having to rely on device specific retargeting. Advances in privacy enhancing technologies also help support anonymized or pseudomized IDs that can be used for segment-based planning, targeting, measurement and attribution.

  3. Tom Cadez from Cadez Media Inc/The FusEd Network, February 17, 2023 at 4:23 p.m.

    Hi Dave...

    Love the content and quality of your work! I feel what is necessary is a "network" of ALL aspects of the media mix (not just broadcast and CTV) - which honestly, comes across as self-serving to me! Currencies are fragmented because media and data are fragmented... Our entire industry requires a non-biased, third party entity to mediate so that a true, full media and multiple option creative optimization process can flourish.

    This would include insights on the creative process and recommended currencies to make this happen. This would be intertwined with insights and currencies (attention metrics possibly) that fully evaluate all media mix options. Media opportunities today are "seriously" fragmented including, programmatic display, OOH, video ad units, email, digital shelf and traditional print (not just TV), to name a few...  A process that interprets media creative process and fully optimized multimedia campaign buys via a few currencies would be required for a true attention-based metric model to exist.  

    There are many entities both big and small working on exacting the future of our industry and although I believe consolidation will eventually happen, differing perspectives will still include a small variety of concepts and currencies to flourish... Massive buys are not the answer to resolve here, Dave! In my "not so humble" opinion, collaboration and third party anonymity Thx, Tom 

  4. John Grono from GAP Research, February 17, 2023 at 5:20 p.m.

    I can't wait until the time when all the 'eye-gaze' measurement that Ed eloquently described is attempted to become part of "the currency".   The advertiser will try to hold the media owner responsible for the 'audience' to their ad was lower than expected/planned.

    I recall a discussion beytween a very powerful TV owner and a large advertiser here in AU.   He put it this way ... we spend a motza on making or procuring TV shows that you want to advertise in, and we deliver you an audience of 2 million, and then your crappy ad only got an audience of 1.5 million, and now you want a make-good because of your lousy ad ... maybe I should add a premium to your ads that lose our hard-earned audience in a matter of a few seconds!   Guess who won that argument.   And imagine what rate cards would look like if robust individual ad measurement was available.   Be careful what you wish for.

  5. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, February 17, 2023 at 5:40 p.m.

    Tom, what you  are describing is a fully integrated system where the whole marketing communication process involving brand management, agency account handling/ "creative" and media planning/buying are  working together on all aspects of campaign development and execution. I agree that is an ideal situation. But there is no incentive, at present, to even dream of such a situation as the media business--including time/space selling as well as media planning/buying is not integrated with the brand managing /creative operations. Instead, the various components are segregated into silos---each with separate tasks---in the name of personpower efficiency.Indeed, even within departments there are additional silos like national TV time buyers being separate from the planners, "TV" buyers operating independently of "digital experts who handle CTV buys, etc. 

    Worse, if some higher authority suddenly wised up and fired the client bean counters whose main function is to keep agency personpower fees as low as possible and, instead, dictated the application of full integration, the people in the various silos would not be up to the task---they are far too specialized---and comfy---- in their specialties. In fact, most would resist---and certainly drag their feet.  As a result, we have to make do with what we have---which is why I keep pushing for attentiveness in the national TV rating studies----it aint perfect and it certainly does not tell the full story of ad impact---but its vastly better than what we are using---namely "impressions" based on ad messages being on a screen.

    As for the other media---local market TV, radio, magazines, newspapers, OOH billboards, digital display----there's little hope because national branding advertisers are totally fixated on national TV----mainly "linear TV" and streaming. Sadly, there is not the slightest interest in the others and the various "other media" are in no position, financially or intellectually, to do anything about it.

  6. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, February 17, 2023 at 6:03 p.m.

    That's not the way it would work, John.

    Assuming that a miracle took place and national TV sellers and time buyers had access to a panel that told them not only how many screens displayed commercials for two or more seconds but also how many people---by demos---actually watched the commercials the latter would become the basic GRP"currency". Both seller and buyer would know what the past norms for commercial attentiveness were for each TV show so when a  future buy was negotiated the buyer would be trying to improve upon what was attained in the last deal ---say an average attentiveness of 38% for the entire schedule. The buyer would also be comparing how this seller's offer compares with those of rival sellers based on attentive GRPs and their CPMs.  This would entail the buyer prodding each seller to include more of the types of shows that perform above average in the packages---or bundles---of placements offered. The sellers would respond by doing so on a limited basis, while, no doubt charging more per attentive viewer and still including most of their shows---the good, the bad and the ugly----in their bundles.

    Eventually  both parties might agree on an average attentiveness of 41.5% for the new schedule---which is attainable by the seller with a little juggling of placements and constant monitoring of delivery. The ensuing "audience" guarantee would be expressed as attentive GRPs---or "impressions" for the entire schedule---just as is done now.That's all. The buyer couldn't go back later and demand compensation if  the deller delivered only 41.5% for the schedule as that was the deal that was made. If the seller delivered  5% fewer attentive  GRPs than was promised , the buyer would, no doubt, get enough attentive GRP make goods to compensate for the shortfall---just like it is today with our old fashioned GRPs. .

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