DIMENSION: Key takeaways and guidance for the industry from Manish Bhatia

The media industry is facing challenges when it comes to communication planning, buying and measurement. This is driven by the relentless march of technology that is making content and by extension advertising available on an ever increasing array of digital devices and platforms. A side effect of digital is data. Digital platforms generate data for every view, every click and every move on the platform. With so much data available at our fingertips, it is important to know which data is truly valuable for every unique situation.

Kantar Media recently launched its annual DIMENSION report which explores how the industry can resolve some of the issues that come along with having too much data. The findings of the report are results of consumer surveys and interviews with industry leaders across five of the largest media markets in the world.

Here are my perspectives on six key takeaways from our ground-breaking study including my views on what it all means for the industry.

How relevant is too relevant?

Relevant ads can make our lives easier, especially when they are digital ads that offer the convenience of a simple click through to purchase a product we are in the market for. Consumers understand that.

Indeed, the findings of our study show that consumers recognize the trade-off between data and personal benefit, however they still have concerns about their privacy. Brands need to use anything that can be perceived as personal cautiously and sensitively and must find the right balance between privacy, targeting and creative appropriateness.

Finding the optimal balance is essential. There comes a point when relevant ads can become too invasive, especially in the wake of scandals like the Cambridge Analytica data breach. When we get to a point where personal data is collected without knowledge or permission, the consumer backlash can be detrimental to brand integrity and consumer trust.

But relevance still matters

According to DIMENSION’s survey findings, the core reasons for ad blocking include a lack of relevance, contextual inappropriateness and inaccurate chronology in the placement of the ads. Brands need to use data to improve the value exchange for the consumer.

However, blocking ads is binary. For some media, consumers that choose to block ads aren’t blocking bad ads – they’re blocking all ads. For example, someone skipping commercials on a DVR will skip all commercials, not just the bad ones. Someone is either going to fast forward through those three minutes, or they aren’t.

On the other hand when it comes to digital advertising, there are steps we can take to minimize the blocking. When we have ads have that are less intrusive and less disruptive of the consumers’ core reason to be online, they are less likely to be blocked. Ads do need to be relevant to the consumer within reason, but brands must be useful and engaging to persuade consumers to stop avoiding them.

The data can also be an issue

One of the problems the industry is navigating through today is having access to too much data. The real issue is that much of the data can be disparate, inconsistent and sometimes contradictory. We all face the challenge of stitching together different data sets to create the right story and garner the most relevant insights that help drive better creative and media planning.

Brand owners and their agencies must navigate the mass of data from numerous sources they’re exposed to and apply their skills to generate meaningful, actionable insights. There is a need to ensure these operational silos work closely together to combine internal and external data sources in order to seamlessly drive and execute the planning, measurement and message of integrated campaigns. The result will be a better consumer experience and higher ROI in terms of brand equity and sales.

Consistency is key

Our DIMENSION study proves that message consistency is crucial, not only across all paid media forms, but across earned and owned media forms too. It’s important to consider how advertising on media formats like TV can drive traffic to non-advertising formats like websites or social media. Consistency is key and messaging should be constant across all channels.

Consider a brand running a TV commercial. If the same audio from that commercial is used in a radio ad, listeners are able to visualize the video from the ad as they hear it. Because the message is constant, it can be reinforced and communicated from multiple touch points whether the visual is there or not. 

Channels beyond advertising, like PR, social influencer and experiential marketing, matter too. Brands can continue to bring efficiencies by adding breadth and creative depth to a communications campaign. Non-advertising techniques are essential for brands to build share-of-voice, add longevity and result in a more rounded perception in the eyes of the consumer. Especially when considering the issue of ad avoidance. Consumers are increasingly spending more time consuming content from premium streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and Spotify. As consumers continue to cut the cord and move over to ad-free or addressable streaming platforms, advertisers need to find new and creative ways to communicate their messages.

The new age of advertising

New media forms like smart speakers are growing in popularity and are the fastest-growing user-interface. They are increasingly becoming the device of choice for consumers to access content and information online. As consumers move away from screens and keyboards, brands need to make sure they are adapting their advertising.

For example, if someone purchases 'batteries' via their smart speaker, brands want the consumer to ask for them by name. They want people to say “Alexa, order more Duracell batteries” or “Hey Google, buy a pack of Energizer batteries.”  Because of this, consumer recall is imperative and branding across other audio or visual media is more critical than ever before.

As part of a general trend towards voice-activated devices and software, advertisers must embrace experimentation with new media forms like these before they scale – even if robust measurement systems are yet to emerge.   

What’s next for measurement?

In addition to the unique insights that data can provide for individual media, common measurement standards across platforms and devices remains the ultimate goal. This is a requirement to help with optimal cross-media/cross-platform/cross channel allocation of advertising to ensure maximum ROI.

Open access to ‘walled garden’ datasets would help. Within a mixed format economy, the industry needs to strive to deliver simplicity and consistency in measurement. As part of our efforts to support this important priority, Kantar Media is proud to offer the most comprehensive multimedia ad monitoring capabilities available, giving clients the ability to view advertising activity across television, print, radio, display, mobile, paid search, programmatic and more.


DIMENSION explores the key communication planning, buying and measurement issues faced by the industry from the twin perspectives of the industry’s leaders, and the consumers they are trying to reach.

Learn more about DIMENSION here

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