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It’s Time For Advertising Measurement To Measure Up

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By Andrea Zapata

“The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.” — John Maynard Keynes

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When the Media Rating Council (MRC) removed Nielsen’s accreditation, the media community collectively became a “shaking my head” meme captioned with, “Not today Nielsen, not today.”


The MRC decision, made on behalf of its voting members, underscored the inevitable: Choice and diversification of measurement models is a mandate for the future. While the spotlight on Nielsen at that moment was bright and necessary, the media industry must keep pushing all measurement partners to resolve for more accurate, cross-platform, full-impact counting metrics and outcome proof points. While we are keen to learn more about the Nielsen One platform when it launches next year, we hope to vet Nielsen with the same rigor as we do all partners.


To truly understand consumer behavior, and have the greatest return on ad spend, measurement must be a priority.


Technology, choice and the perpetual shift in audience viewing behavior consistently “break” the ruling measurement system. Cable was first in this trend, until digital video recorders (DVRs) continued the disruption, to be followed by over-the-top television (OTT), connected TV (CTV), subscription video on demand (SVOD), advertising video on demand (AVOD), free video on demand (FVOD), free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) and the like.


Typically, measurement is slower to evolve. While measurement tries to catch up, concessions have been made by the market. We all understand the limitations of legacy measurement systems when it comes to accounting for all the eyeballs watching, and to justify campaign ad spend. What is different now is a drumbeat that is pushing us to innovate and solve for the shortcomings of past alternatives.


The essential elements of the measurement multiverse
The most blunt and direct of metrics, the gross rating point (GRP) is the universally accepted way in which TV advertising is planned and bought. The GRP does not account for every way an advertiser’s creative can leave an impact on a consumer and ultimately affect outcome. Things left out can include lean-in factors like engagement with beautiful storytelling, the halo effects a brand has when either embedded with a fan-favorite IP or surrounding it in a commercial pod, the efficacy of a less-cluttered ad load or the power of showing up in an innovative ad environment.
Currently WarnerMedia is in the discovery process, taking a prescriptive approach to exploring the numerous measurement partners within the industry to identify those who can add the most value for our inventory and our advertisers.
Between partnering with more traditional and established players that measure TV ad performance, and with others with more outcomes-based solutions that look at full-funnel impact, we and the industry have an opportunity to transform how we approach measurement, and invest in alternatives that can bridge the existing gaps.


Outcomes-driven measurement
We are also taking a fresh look at how panels show up in the new ecosystem of alternative measurement, where outcomes are at the heart of the process. In this new measurement multiverse, outcomes are the new demo.
Panels are best used for broad-stroke demographic use cases, and are invaluable for people measurement when weighted to be nationally representative. But in this new world of advanced targeting and optimization, panels have limitations and must be used in tandem with other measurement solutions. More innovative methodology can fill in the gaps across streaming and automatic content recognition (ACR), while another can factor in ad-server data, all while accounting for outcomes-based action.


TV has such a unique place in the outcomes-based world, and it’s critical how we measure the value of outcomes in a scalable way. We know our stories have powerful impact. In our recent report, Welcome to the Age of Intentionalism, we found that 47% of consumers agree with the statement, “I’m more likely to trust an ad if it runs during one of my favorite shows.”

Innovative measurement for powerful storytelling


By looking beyond strictly panel-based measurement, advertisers can be fan-first and build a more holistic portfolio of measurement solutions to account for ever-evolving consumption behavior. According to our report, 83% say they were inspired to shop by a show/movie on a streaming service.
We are on the road to ensuring advertisers have a greater understanding of how television, social and digital complement each other to better inform where they should be allocating their dollars. But this requires partnership, trust, and an innovative mindset. We are keen to test alternative measurement, from forecasting and planning, with a lens on where coverage gaps exist.


To accurately measure the effectiveness of your ad spend, you cannot work in a vacuum or rely on just one methodology. We need to be as nimble and nuanced as our customers are, and design new measurement solutions that not only count audiences but also account for emerging behaviors and shifting mindsets in real time. After all, the white space in research is not solely in computing, but also consulting.

Credit: Ad Age

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