The Kind of Media Measurement Philosophy the Industry Needs Today

 In Advertising & Monetization, Audience Measurement

This is the third post in our coverage of the Re!Think conference, hosted by the ARF (Advertising Research Foundation). If you missed parts one and two, read them here and here.

The Re!Think conference has been the one place, year after year, where many of the major audience measurement companies from Nielsen (TV) to Comscore (web), and from Arbitron (radio) to GFK MRI (print) share their media measurement data, case studies, research and methodologies. And it used to make perfect sense to silo media measurement by such categories.

But, as we all know by now, old media measurement methods have been completely transformed by the way consumers now access media in practice. Specifically, here are the two major disruptions we see in the market.  

Disruption #1: Consumers now use multiple digital device types interchangeably.

Online usage has moved from a web-centric, PC environment to a mobile environment (or, more accurately stated, to a “smart-device environment,” as we often use our mobile devices when we’re at home and not on-the-go, contrary to what the word “mobile” implies) where consumers use multiple device types interchangeably to access a variety of apps, sites and services. This includes anything from PCs to smartphones, tablets to e-book readers or game consoles to smart TVs. At the same time, widgets, apps and other new ways to engage with content have taken us way beyond the web browser.

Disruption #2: People use multiple channels to access old media and digital media – and in fact the boundaries between the two are becoming blurry.

It is no longer easy to divide the world into two camps: the old world of TV/print/radio and the new world of online/mobile. Instead, people are accessing audio, video and the written word across many devices. The boundaries are not easy to define. You watch Netflix on your smartphone and smart TV. You access BBC content through linear TV and BBC iPlayer mobile apps.

These two major disruptions are exactly what industry watchers, such as the ARF, need to care about and create discussions around.

We asked Gayle Fuguitt, CEO and President of Advertising Research Foundation, how the ARF views media measurement today. Here’s what she said.

“We at the ARF are constantly working toward the best possible outcomes and results for solutions providers, advertisers, networks and publishers alike in this complex cross-platform measurement world. Our ARF conferences provide bleeding-edge content with our marquis study unveiled at this year’s Re!think 2016 Conference: Measure Up: How Advertising Works Today… [This was] the most important study of its kind in over 25 years: 5,000 campaigns, $375 billion  in advertising spending, 100 categories in 41 countries. From Neuro-Science to Mobile Measurement Innovation and Advertising Solutions, we translate the latest findings into results and sales … provide a better way to deep dive into specific topic areas.”

The Need for Comparable Data

At Verto Analytics, we’ve responded to these two major trends by focusing on single-source media measurement, which bridges the gap between traditional and new media. We believe that one should not treat apps differently from TV programs or websites differently from widgets. We should be able to examine Netflix data on a comparable scale with NBC data – with an even baseline – counting all devices and delivery formats in the same service and reporting all access evenly.

If advertisers are looking at all channels as possible alternatives to (or combinations of) their media spending, why should we differentiate the measurement of those channels into separate services? What everybody needs is comparable data and an understanding of exactly how a certain target group behaves across different channel types. This cross-service, single-source measurement is what Verto provides. It’s transparent, and our data comes from the source: consumers.

A Call for Joint Industry Committees

Here’s another interesting trend observed at ARF.  In the U.S., market supply (and innovation) and demand (and use cases) are driving the development of more sophisticated tools and services. In many European countries, new tools and standards have traditionally called for the attention and formation of joint industry committees (JICs) and industry standard bodies to decide on the applicable media measurement standards. With so many different JICs in different countries, separate committees for digital versus TV, should they combine together or not that is a big question for the future?

As Paul Neto, an experienced media executive, who spoke at ARF, says:

We see today such a mature advertising industry that [a] simple question like ‘Was the target group exposed to a certain campaign?’ is not enough – thus it was interesting to see next-generation research done by a number of research vendors, topics ranging from latency of advertising impact to better quantifying cross-device campaigns – hopefully we see this innovation continuing in future ARF conferences!

Overall, the direction of the conversations at the ARF, IAB and ESOMAR conferences are on point. We do need more tools, improved methods and better data. But more than anything, we need comparable data  and simplicity to explain how the net reach of any given media company can be measured, without modeling!

Join the conversation on the future of media measurement. Follow us on Twitter, subscribe to our newsletter or contact us if you are interested in receiving our ARF presentation and learning more about Verto.

Sign up for our newsletter: