From vision to value: successful strategies for real change in audience measurement

At our most recent World Audiences Summit, media leaders from around the world discussed how best to bring about positive change and enhanced value in audience measurement.
10 February 2022
audience measurement value vision
Bas De Vos
De Vos

Global Director – Audiences and Targeting, Media Division

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Audience measurement around the world is undergoing seismic shifts. There are real opportunities for different media to work together to facilitate service improvements and efficiencies, to expand scope across platforms, and to adopt designs that will facilitate cross-media measurement. How best to advance such change?

Gary Whitaker of South Africa’s Broadcast Research Council made an impassioned plea for greater collaboration, primarily to find efficiencies that can be reinvested into service development.

“What we should be doing is amalgamating all these standard deliverables that go into each of our studies and paying for them once off. That then opens up a myriad of opportunities to research other areas that we should be looking at.” – Gary Whitaker, CEO, Broadcast Research Council of South Africa

A further benefit would be increased standardisation, bringing real value to those who plan and evaluate across different media. Age demographics, for instance, can vary in definition across different media. Standardisation would benefit media agencies, planners, strategists and buyers, making it easier to compare metrics across all media, as opposed to being forced to ‘hit a square peg into a round hole’.

Whitaker’s plea was welcomed by a panel of leaders from the new shared total-media audience measurement system in the Netherlands. The Dutch industry is going even further than Whitaker’s ambition, coming together as NMO to align video, audio and publisher currencies. Our team is building the new system together with Ipsos.

A pragmatic approach

Karin Schut of Vinex explained that a key element in getting industry buy-in to this new Dutch system is a pragmatic approach that delivers value without destabilising existing methods. The new system is cross-media by design, but it’s architected to first improve rather than replace the existing currencies before then delivering enriched value though cross-media capabilities. Single-source elements mean that they can share costs and potentially tie them together in a cross-media solution. The pragmatic objective is that cross-media insights will be built out from the existing metrics within each medium.

“We’re not going to change the definition of reach within viewing. We’re not building a new metric, but grouping the metrics together. We have to acknowledge that there are different practices for planning, buying and evaluation in each medium type itself, so it’s our goal to bring all the insights together to create a total view, but not necessarily to create a new metric that we align across all media.” – Karin Schut, Director, Vinex

So, what brought the separate siloed currencies together in the first place? According to Sjoerd Pennekamp of SKO, the Dutch TV viewing currency, it was a realisation that they all needed reliable, shared measurement of their services on the internet.

“We all needed to have good online measurement solutions. What helped to solve it was shifting focus away from the idea of TV measurement and online measurement and towards the ecosystem that shared measurement would serve. So, there’s a GRP model and an impression-based online model and they can exist together and make use of the same measurement tools, but deliver different data sets and different value to different stakeholders.” – Sjoerd Pennekamp, Director, SKO

Changing the narrative

Having agreed on the research need, the next challenge was to gain wider market acceptance for a new approach. The real breakthrough in the Netherlands came when the advocates of change shifted their focus from the research design to the specific business value for the different stakeholders. For advertisers the priority is cross-media measurement, for television it’s expanding cross-platform video measurement, and for radio it’s the advantages of moving to passive panel-based measurement that means they can sit in the same planning systems as TV. There’s a value proposition for everyone but not necessarily the same emphasis.

“Once you have taken that step to work together, it’s a process that will accelerate itself. In the beginning, we made the mistake of concentrating on the beauty of the design and not the added value of the research for stakeholders’ business models. We had to remember that many board members have different perspectives. Only when we found the narrative did it change, and the narrative was different for different stakeholders. People then understood the value that would be capitalised.” – Johan Smit, Director, NMO

The need for speed and pragmatism

It’s vital that measurement can keep changing with the accelerating development of new forms of media delivery – but is faster better than perfect, as the current zeitgeist has it? Kanishka Das of P&G, who along with Nathalie Bordes of ANA spoke to industry cross-media measurement efforts, advocated a need for speed and pragmatism that was widely supported at the summit.

“We need complete, open, transparent and future-proofed cross media measurement to enable consumers to have a better viewing experience. This is mission-critical, the time is now, and as we have said through the WFA, ANA and ISBA efforts we need all stakeholders to come together as an industry, aligned to industry (MRC) standards. We know the work is complex, it won’t be easy, we’ll have to test our way through, but we need to get started.” – Kanishka Das, Senior Director, Global Media Analytics & Insights, Procter & Gamble

The importance of reliability and trust in the data were repeatedly emphasised. Leaders acknowledged the importance of speed to market but stressed the importance of pragmatism in effecting change – of not necessarily measuring everything from the beginning, but concentrating efforts on what’s possible considering market infrastructure and investments available.

Bringing about change and increasing both efficiency and quality requires an enthusiastic approach and an agreement on realistic objectives. Now with the largest and fastest-growing cross-platform measurement footprint in the world, we’re pleased to be working with clients to meet them.

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