Don’t Back Down: The Future of Media & Advertising Research Part 1

By Laura Chaibi

Media and advertising researchers – the digital world is marching on, we are the named and shamed weakness in media and advertising (lack of measurement). Furthermore, my observation is that unless we fix this, our profession will be further marginalised.

I have nearly 20 year’s premium publisher experience with digital media and advertising measurement; a woman, in digital, in tech, in media, and now living in the Middle East, a region historically documented as a male dominated culture and working population…Can the challenge odds be any more stacked against me?

I stopped New Year’s resolutions finding them ineffective and started birthday intentions instead.  Last birthday, before #metoo happened, I dedicated my intention to:

“Don’t Back Down”

Maybe if I had this mantra 10 years ago, when I saw the issues, media research would be a better industry. Better late than never, so….

What went wrong?

Our bread and butter of measuring anonymous audience got hit two-fold – with the rise of 1st party logged in data at scale, anonymous audiences appeared ‘less relevant’ and a small quality audience set positioned as ‘inferior’ compared to a deluge of machine signal data as a proxy for people. We did not defend our audience, our profession and we did not defend the principles of effective sampling with carefully selected and profiled audiences and its value.

Secondly, the design of audience measurement within digital quietly moved elsewhere and we did nothing about it. While many of us were off tending to our well-tended audience panels and perfecting them, we were blindsided – badly. Mobile, walled gardens, black box custom builds that only an engineer can understand and mastermind. We may have had the best voice on audience; however, a slower to speak voice and certainly not the largest voice.  The audience champions – side lined.

It is an audience measurement mess, and to rub salt in the wound, our core competencies are popping up at Facebook in product roles! People who know everything about building products and very little about measuring the people using them, let alone what’s needed to be measured for advertising and marketing effectiveness are now responsible – that is our job!

Our skills and experience have been disintermediated, and for the most part, we let it happen.

What we need to think about now is how to get back on track and future proof media and advertising research roles and our profession in a digital world. I am going to outline the very fundamentals and key pillars as well as future gaze. We cannot clean up today’s mess with yesterday’s solutions; we can however embrace future problems and build strategies to solve them with a fresh perspective. Let us ride out the midterm outlook that we cannot fix, and build for where we can mediate back in. To find out how we should do so, read tomorrow’s article!

“Don’t Back Down”

Laura Chaibi is a 20 year veteran of the media research industry currently working in the Middle East

Laura has 5 specific areas that she elaborates on. Interested in hearing more? If you are an ESOMAR member then go to MyESOMAR to read part 2 of this piece.

Not an ESOMAR member? Then contact membership@esomar.org to rectify the situation!

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