Embrace the Migration of Measurement…Or Else

Mark Risis_IBM_TheWeatherCompanyWith audience measurement in the throes of a major transformation, Cynopsis is moving the conversation forward with the August 3 Measurement & Data Conference in NYC, focused on where the industry is going – and how we get there. One of our featured speakers, Mark Risis, Head of Global Partnerships & Data Sales for The Weather Company, offers Cynopsis editor David Teich a preview of discussions on the challenges and opportunities that face an evolving industry.

Cynsiders: In what ways is the proliferation of of new platforms, from the constantly-increasing number of SVOD services to the proliferation of live TV services like DirecTV Now and YouTube TV, making measurement and targeting harder? And on the flip side, what new opportunities are these shifts bringing for marketers and others?

Mark Risis: The proliferation of services not only creates scale but also fragmentation. The challenges – to identify viewers, target them, measure the delivery against the desired target and quantify the impact that the ad had on the viewer – are all more complicated in this environment than they are in a panel-based measurement framework.    

The idea of a rating becomes highly challenged, as its value is stretched to meet the reality of a 1:1 delivery across multiple platforms, and outside of the typical broadcast window, even when expanded by +3 or +7 days. At the same time, the new services represent unprecedented opportunities for improvement. The underlying IP infrastructure allows for robust data collection about who watched what, when, and what else they also consumed. That begins to form a much richer and compelling portrait of an individual, further enriched by the ability to overlay advertiser data or high quality second or 3rd party data.

The underlying infrastructure, in turn, allows for much more efficient delivery to an individual viewer/viewing session, and the ability to control for frequency, creative sequencing, cross-device message coordination, and ultimately sets up more robust opportunities to measure/attribute the impact the ad had on the consumer journey in general. 

Cynsiders: Transparency in measurement can be tougher to find these days. What are some of the best steps marketers and advertisers can take to in order to maximize their chances of finding it?

Risis: The balance between transparency and the risk of revealing proprietary information is always a precarious game. While some elements of measurement should remain proprietary to the measurement providers, marketers can get more visibility into certain elements.  

For one, marketers should seek more transparency when it comes to the “ingredients” used – which data is used for media exposure, how was it collected, what are the underlying rights awarded to the measurement solution provider, and how stable is it over time.

The same goes for the data used to measure the KPIs – not only the source and process for collection, but also how comprehensive is the data, are the blind spots accounted for correctly, and what steps are being taken to ensure the stability and predictability.Ultimately, it’s not the transparency that marketers should be concerned with, but a degree of transparency that will allow marketers to make downstream decisions with more confidence.      

 Cynsiders: For publishers, SVOD services, and TV networks, is there a limit to how much data you should be sharing with marketers and advertisers, or not? What should that basic dynamic look like?

Risis: There really isn’t a limit on how much data, but what the marketer is able to do with that data, and ultimately to what degree the data helps the marketer improve their ability to make decisions that drive their business.   

As publishers, the traditional view is to guard the data, as it could be used to disintermediate or provide a competitive disadvantage. However, as we move into the world of AI and cognitive, data becomes a highly valued fuel for tools and systems that allow for more robust decisions. Thus, instead of being a liability, the ability to constructively deploy data is a differentiator and creates new opportunities for publishers/SVOD/TV networks to monetize their assets and fuel new channels for growth. 

Cynsiders: Over the next decade, what do you think will be the biggest new challenges when it comes to achieving consistent measurement and transparency? And what steps should people be taking now as preparation for meeting those challenges?

Risis: Managing the transition between controlled measurement – panels and focus groups – to measurement that uses naturally occurring data that is collected “in the wild” is incredibly challenging. It’s a world where a rating and an impression live side by side. The odds of both approaches yielding the same answers are low. They often tell very different stories. Thus, there are two parallel truths that can coexist at the same moment in time for marketers, and knowing how to accept this gray area during the transition from a “good enough” to a “much better but never enough” is something that requires confidence and resolution.   

The other challenge is the disproportionate standards set for census-based measurement that accompanies 1:1 marketing. Scale, speed, precision – all attributes that get low priority when using panels, become points of obsession and can transform into a barrier – chasing the absolute becomes paralyzing, a classic “perfection getting in the way of progress.”

It’s critical to embrace the inevitability of the transition, the migration – migration of measurement and, more importantly, the overarching business model, one that values the precision and quantifiable nature of persons-level addressable targeting, and mandates that measurement evolves to accompany and support the shift in a way that’s constructive and additive, lest the industry feels the devastating impact of a disruptive shift (think of the music industry, for example). 

The Cynsiders column is a platform for industry leaders to reach out to colleagues, followers, and the public at large. In their own words and in targeted Q&As, columnists address breaking news, issues of the day, and the larger changes going on in the ever-evolving world of television, video and digital. Cynsiders columns live on Cynopsis’ main page and are promoted across all daily newsletters. We welcome readers’ comments, queries, and column ideas at Lynn@Cynopsis.com.

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