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Crisis headache Are we in a crisis, as Alan Wurtzel from NBC said?  I interviewed Bob Barocci, President of the ARF on his thoughts about what industry leaders had to say at the ARF’s Audience Measurement 4.0 Conference.

Joel: At AM 4.0 Media leaders agreed, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t sell or buy it.”  How far along is the industry towards measuring multiple media platforms?

Bob:  If you believe Alan Wurtzel, our industry “Czar of Audience Measurement (for-a-day)”, we are not yet close.  In fact, Alan describes the current situation as  a ”crisis”.  At least from his perch as the research head of a major television network.  “If you can’t measure it, you can’t sell it”, he says.  Well, as usual, Alan’s brain is  a few years ahead of the rest of us.  “We need to tell the industry what we want by way of holistic measurement!”, cries Alan.  Then and only then can we expect significant progress.  A few breaths later, he suggests that a JIC might be the best solution.  “That would put the advertisers, agencies and media together in the JIC preparing the RFP for the suppliers and deciding on the best solution.”  Legal in the USA?  Some think so.  Others don’t.  Wouldn’t it be great if the industry got together, say through the ARF, and approached Congress with a JIC proposal for holistic measurement and told Congress that none of the major players see any restraint of trade or anti-trust issues?  Too dreamy?  The ARF 360 Media and Marketing Council welcomes any and all ideas.  We need a solution.

Joel: How will media spending shift once we get better at measuring multi-platform reach and what will be the key pieces to creating new measurement currencies?

Bob:  “Multi-platform reach “is not at issue.  This can be calculated with an acceptable level of confidence.  “Holistic campaign impact” is the issue. If the campaign is a multi-media campaign (and there is no empirical evidence that says all successful campaigns are mult-media), there should be  a good reason for taking money from the primary medium and putting some of it into the “secondary medium”.  If a brand needs  a ”direct” component to work in collaboration with its television campaign, the internet is a powerful choice. However, one of the speakers at the recent ARF AM 4.0 said, “we have  a lot to learn about TV advertising effectiveness.”  He was referring to the fact that TV’s role may be changing dramatically in this new technology-driven media age.  In the end, these questions are best answered with experimentation.  Unfortunately, as an industry, not nearly enough is being invested in audience impact measurement learning.  This must change.  Either through collaborations like the very useful recent ARF Foundations of Quality study that involved 17 online data suppliers who supplied data pro bono, and ten advertisers and ten research companies who funded the work needed to analyze the rich database.  This is ground-breaking model that can be applied to critical audience measurement issues that are too costly for a single company to fund.

Joel: Advertisers, media companies, media agencies, and media measurement firms all attended AM 4.0.  What do you think the single biggest “aha” takeaway was for each?

Bob: Advertisers – “oh my!  I though that we had  a better handle on all these issues.”
Media companies – “we do need to collaborate better and invest in learning.”
Media Agencies – there is a differentiating competitive edge for my agency if we can figure out how to lead clients on audience measurement progress.  Holistic measurement is a big one.  Leveraging STB data is another. Others – figuring out the role of social media in “selling soap”; improving the granularity of multi-cultural data so experimentation can be implemented; single service,passive data system potential.
Media measurement research companies – this is an industry of opportunity.  But, we must work more closely with the advertisers to get the economics working for all parties.

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