A look at how we, as researchers, can solve the issues that exist with advertising and media measurement.
Experts from a media network, a media measurement company and the US standards body, on the latest ways to measure audiences across devices
By Tim Macer
The continuing fragmentation of the TV market, with so many different ways to view media content today, plus the consumer’s growing tendency to hop from device to device, has left many tried-and-tested audience measurement methods wanting. In some cases, buyers were discounting what they saw as over-optimistic measures, which risked devaluing an entire industry. The difficulty in providing measures that media buyers and providers alike could accept is ironic bearing in mind that digital advertising, where things most got out of hand, came with the promise of the Big Data back-feed that broadcast TV always lacked.
This article highlights three prime movers who, in different ways, are pioneering more reliable audience measures that will work across the spectrum of devices at play today.
The digital media network
Viant is a people-based advertising technology company that typifies the cross-device conundrum in TV and digital media content distribution. It offers two ad serving technologies – Vindico and Specific Media – plus the relaunched entertainment network Myspace and a shared partnership in Xumo, an ‘over the top’ internet-delivered TV network. It differentiates itself from other media networks by bringing together a content execution environment, an identity management platform and advanced data analytics in its trademarked platform, The Advertising Cloud. At the time of writing, Time Inc. had just announced it is in the process of in acquiring Viant.
Rick Bruner, VP of Research and Analytics, says it is their knowledge of who is at the receiving end that distinguishes Viant. “Having Myspace means we have a first-party relationship. We know who these people are – and that lets us reach them across the entire internet.”
The numbers are impressive: the Viant Advertising Cloud encompasses 230 million individuals and 103 million households in the USA, and 1.2 billion registrants worldwide. From the very start, Viant recognised that those accessing its content are going to be using different devices, which is a central part of its identity management work.
“We have connected people’s devices across multiple platforms and we have done a considerable amount in appending and enriching the data we have on these individuals,” says Bruner. This knowledge lets them provide people-based ad targeting – where ads are served specifically to reach a particular demographic or sub-population.
For Bruner the key to cross-device measurement is “reconciling the identities of people. Over the last few years there has been a tendency to look at the different media channels as discrete buckets. But mobile, television, even display advertising are not disconnected consumer behaviors. You are still trying to understand unique reach and frequency, and if you can’t identify the same person on different devices, you can’t estimate reach accurately, or make sense of what the GRP is.”
Consuming media differently
Making sense of GRP (gross rating points), the traditional measure of tonnage used to buy and sell advertising, within this new landscape is the business of media measurement agency comScore. Joan FitzGerald, senior vice president, Television and Cross Media Service at comScore, provided insight into the issues that measurement companies face.
“Ultimately” she says, “it is about monetization of all the ad inventory. What happened is that video escaped the television set and that means all sorts of complexity in measuring ad impressions. That’s extremely important, because if you can’t measure it, you can’t monetize it.”
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