In June, ESOMAR held its annual Summer Academy, this year kicking off the event with a one-day seminar on measuring multi-platform media audiences.

As marketers, we live in exciting times – there are now more ways to reach a consumer than ever.

We’ve all witnessed a dramatic change in the way we consume media, but with the rise in new technology come new challenges for measurement. Measuring audiences was once considered an easy task, with each platform having its own traditional method for measurement. However, now media companies publish content on several channels and measuring these audiences has become a complicated area.

The seminar audience – full of advertisers, researchers and marketers – were looking for answers. ESOMAR reports on this insightful day filled with new ideas for measurement, presented by big names such as Twitter, Coca-Cola and the BBC.

More than 65 delegates attended this year’s seminar, coming from 20 countries and covering three continents.

Richard Marks, owner of Research The Media, opened the seminar and set the scene for the day looking at the broader issues surrounding cross-platform and cross-media measurement. “Multi-platform metrics are no longer just a nice-to-have. Their lack is an embarrassing hole, especially on mobile,” commented Marks. According to Marks, we need to be more pragmatic in the way we analyse data, with each media arguably having a metric that best suits its own strengths.

Following Marks’ opening, the day moved to discuss two main themes.

 

Is there anyone in the world that’s not digital?

To give the seminar grounding, many of the speakers discussed the audience transition to digital and the foundation to why there is so much discussion on cross-platform measurement.

Television, radio and press have seen audiences migrate to digital platforms that are not only often more difficult to measure, but also harder to add together to get a total reach figure for content and advertising. This is creating a hole in measurement and as some of the speakers of the day mentioned, could in turn damage the industry if it cannot prove its effectiveness.

Social media was another prominent theme of the day, led by Jake Steadman from Twitter. A recurring comment was the idea that social ‘turbocharges campaigns, and other media.’ In this increasingly digital age, social is becoming a platform for audiences to ‘hang out’ in. This is becoming the norm in terms of TV and advertising. Steadman mentioned that results have shown an improved ROI from TV with twitter. Adverts now include hashtags, TV shows include hashtags, and all this is adding to a conversation that is driving consumer behavior. A new pattern is emerging – viewers are using Twitter while watching TV and spending more time in front of their televisions – and viewers are now tweeting about the programme they are watching in the break, rather than leaving the room during the adverts. Twitter is amplifying TV and vice-versa. The future of ad measurement was viewed as an uncertain one – with social media now running alongside it, traditional forms of measurement may no longer apply. Some researchers and advertisers are asking whether ‘shared time’ (consuming a number of media simultaneously), should be measured differently as the viewer’s attention is divided.

There are now officially more mobile devices than people in the world. This idea of a ‘second’ screen can amplify messages with people now running two devices at once. According to Léon Liest from Cadreon, consumers are now controlling when, where and how they consume – brands need to become relevant to the platforms they contribute to. But it’s getting harder to identify the touch point and the role of the touch point when it comes to social media activities.

 

No one solution

Getting down to the all-important answers of the day, many themes were discussed, but the recurring premise was there is no one solution for measuring cross channel, and different channels need different approaches. Additionally, each country is different, so there is unlikely to be a universal standard when it comes to measurement.

Shubu Mitra from Coco-Cola explained that it was futile to look for one magic bullet solution to cross-platform measurement. Discussion led to the thought that we need a new set of global definitions if we are to measure effectively, and what areas should be measured. Video, audio, text/ pictures were considered the three consumer-linked media concepts that needed to be measured, no matter what platform.

Themes of the day suggested that we shouldn’t necessarily wait around for an all-encompassing solution; we need to focus on getting ‘good enough’ data for measurement purposes. Which moved the discussion towards measurement science; with some speakers debating that this approach provides brands with the metrics they need to understand consumers. In turn, Pat Pellegrini from Experian Marketing Services commented that advancements in measurement science would fuel cross-platform insights.

As mentioned, the no one-solution approach was a common topic; moreover it was also discussed that a one-system analysis focusing on understanding the impact of just one specific media channel, while ignoring others, can be misleading. For example, Shubu Mitra, mentioned social media and the power of social strategy, yet this is an area that can be murky when it comes to measurement. With social media, it’s not all about likes and follows, but what this leads to in terms of a snowball effect and the drive behind behavior change. But to measure this isn’t easy – measuring media usage and advertising touchpoints is important, yet measuring impact and ROI may be an area to develop – data is not necessarily an insight.

A point that was mentioned in the latter parts of the day was the need for more data analysts to assist in the future of multi-platform measurement. Audience researchers are now faced with increasingly complex data and thus a shift from “traditional” jobs in research to more mathematical and analytic was a topic many of the speakers agreed with. There is a growing need for analysts who have a scientific approach to data analysis, and the industry needs to change to facilitate this new type of measurement. But, not to be forgotten, there is still a growing need for analysts that see beyond numbers and bring context to data and these people will have a vital role in analysing audience behaviour.

It was also discussed that research and media agencies needed to work together to start tackling multi-platform measurement, as they compliment each other and there is a lot of synergy between them. We need to work together with other companies that will have other types of data if we are to start challenging the issue of multi-platform measurement. 

 

Conclusions

The overarching thought from delegates of the seminar was how overwhelmed as an industry we have become with cross-platform measurement. The seminar was a good starting point and the audience felt the speakers had started the right conversations. We know there are no magic solutions and, in fact, complexity will only increase. Although there might not be a one-fit solution, will this ever be possible anyway? We need to be flexible looking at the unknown future. What the seminar gave was an insight into what areas need to be measured and how we can speak more about “impact” and insights when reporting to clients, not just data.

The Industry must be humble in front of the complexity we are dealing with. Today we do not have one solution. So, we’ll leave you with food for thought from Coca-Cola’s Shubu Mitra, “Are we solving yesterday’s problems or are we getting ready for tomorrow?”

 

 

 

 

 

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