No one can predict the future of media measurement in today’s complex and fragmented market. In fact, like everyone, we have as many questions as answers. One fact we know for sure, it is only by meeting and debating with stakeholders in an open and honest forum that we can start to make sense of tomorrow. That’s why we put some of our most pressing questions to a roundtable of experts last year. Their answers provide a fascinating insight into the media metrics we need now, and what we might need in the future. Here are some of the highlights I’ll be presenting at Mediatel’s event, Big Day of Data, on 25th June.
Let’s start with now. It’s a picture of confusion with pure panels, hybrid approaches and blended (and blurred) methodologies and definitions. And there are mixed views regarding whether we need to develop increasingly complex and sophisticated research methodologies to measure total media. There’s no question this is challenging, but at GfK we are confident it can be done. The skill is to take the learnings from the various existing approaches from the years we’ve been measuring media consumption and combine those with the latest data sets – including behavioural and transactional data to provide as comprehensive and accurate a picture as possible. In this way we are building data-sets that are actionable for both traditional media planning and programmatic.
If we take confusion as our baseline, what might measurement look like tomorrow?
Let’s talk about the near future, and in particular addressable TV advertising and programmatic advertising. How are players like Google and Facebook changing the environment? How might programmatic and addressable advertising affect media measurement?
Addressable advertising was a particularly controversial topic of debate, and although a number of our panellists were fairly dismissive of the broader impact of addressable TV advertising, Google and Facebook saw more significance in these innovations. “It does represent one more step from the traditional TV world towards the world that I represent, and it makes the politics slightly easier. It makes forging alliances, building bridges and so forth easier. We start to talk the same language and […] I think that is quite welcome,” said Niels Marslev, Measurement Partner Manager, Northern Europe, Google. But there was also scepticism about the ability of measurement techniques to keep pace with the development of the media platforms they are intended to measure.
One challenge is introducing programmatic ad buying technologies to linear TV. At GfK we’re already working on a way to connect currency data to programmatic platforms. To get addressable TV separated from the panel ratings is straightforward, but for ratings on the individual addressable TV campaigns we will need big data sets such as set-up box data, and that is an obstacle we’re working to overcome.
Our next stop will be to tackle the holy grail of media measurement, namely to offer a total customer view. To deliver this we have merged our media measurement operations with Consumer Panel to achieve a total view of media consumption and buying behaviour. Passively measured ad exposure can be directly linked to transactional data to indicate return on investment for media spend. This may unlock budgets or lead to a redistribution of media spend – whatever the result, it should drive efficiency and increase ROI.
Is there a role for currencies and JICs in the future?
Nik Shah, Measurement Partnerships Lead EMEA at Facebook, summed up the question around media currencies during the roundtable discussion: “It is really about what the currency should actually be doing and whose needs it is serving.” In other words, we need to define ‘currency’ and then deliver it.
Clearly, a currency does not have to be panel-based – and is unlikely to be so in the era of numerous big data. Magnus Anshelm, CEO of MMS in Sweden, argued that YouTube and Facebook have evolved to be a ‘semi-currency’ in Sweden because they account for 35-40 percent of the commercial content in the marketplace.
However, for a currency to work, there must be only one. Our panel of experts agreed that it is counter-productive to wish for a single over-arching metric. Those representing online advertising interests contend that it is entirely appropriate to separate the measurement of trading metrics from the measurement of cross-publisher or cross-media reach. We’re a long way from one measure, and with so many data sets owned by so many players, a true currency may never exist.
For some years now the future of the Joint Industry Committee (JIC) has been debated, and it’s fair to say there has been criticism of the approach from some quarters. Recently there’s been a change in direction, and the concept of JICs garnered widespread support in our discussion. Jane Clarke of CIMM even expressed a degree of envy that no comparable initiatives exist in the US market: “The US is extremely jealous of JICs. There are efforts to see if we can start one up.”
Our group acknowledged that it is critical that JICs evolve to meet future challenges. For instance, there is an argument that single-country JICs tend to be too fragmented in their geographical approach. Facebook argues that is one reason why it tends to partner with agencies that have international scale rather than JICs. Could the answer be pan-European JIC initiatives?
Whatever happens, in this increasingly fragmented landscape, there will likely be a demand for a neutral third party to critically evaluate contending methodologies. Will the currency-creating function of JICs be overtaken by an auditing role? Johan Smit, PMA believes they have to evolve to survive : “The role of JICs to ensure that whatever the system evolves into, it is less of a contested issue […] it’s not the rubberstamp, but it is the gold stamp of approval.”
There is even backing for this evolving role of the JIC from the likes of Facebook. “I think JICs absolutely need to take the lead in working out what that campaign measurement system looks like, auditing it, and making sure the right questions are being asked of that system.” Nik Shah at Facebook.
We can’t predict the future, but we can make plans to:
- Continue to work closely with big data sets
- Move towards total consumer rather than total media
- Develop ROI cases to unlock more spend.
And of course, we will continue our annual roundtables with experts to keep debating the present and future of media measurement.