Unilever has a developed a cross-media measurement model and is fielding input from other advertisers to improve it, as part of its efforts to clean up the digital ad ecosystem.
The model has been a year in the making after outgoing chief marketing officer Keith Weed launched the company's Responsibility Framework last year.
Speaking to The Drum, senior vice-president of global media, Luis Di Como, said that though there are other tools in the market, Unilever had found nothing that was fit for purpose.
"We wanted something that allowed us to do proper cross-media measurement across different publishers and platforms that helped to achieve unduplicated reach on each of them, but also allowed us to measure the impact [of a campaign], not just in terms of attributes but also on sales, in a private and safe way," he explained.
By combining existing industry measurement tools into one system, Unilever has been able to assess — in a privacy-safe way, it stressed — the reach and marketing impact across a range of publishers, platforms and screens.
The model has been designed to measure campaign audiences and audience reactions, as well as short-, medium-, and long-term impact.
To get to this point, the conglomerate worked closely with Facebook, Google, Twitter and Kantar Research.
The model has been tested in some global markets, assessing the impact of a variety of marketing campaigns as it looks to “fine tune” the system.
Early results are promising, claimed Di Como , but he declined to reveal specifics.
In fact, Unilever has opted not to disclose any outcomes with its agency partners, stating: “at the end of the day we want this to be something that we activate when making choices on our media investment."
The FMCG-giant has been making moves to in-house larger portions of its marketing mix, though this has been been predominantly for content and creative production, rather than media buying.
While it’s reticent to share the insights outside of its own marketing and media departments, it is keen to share the model with other advertisers in the hopes of establishing a “global” solution that will improve transparency across the ecosystem.
It has established a partnership with the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) to bring others on board and ensure its long-term adoption.
“Because of our scale, we have a responsibility to drive initiatives like this that will become the norm for the whole industry,” Di Como continued. “The work we've been doing over the last year has been amazing and we've made significant steps and that's why we think now is the right time to engage the rest of the industry to take it to the next level.
"It's critical for driving excellence in the overall advertising ecosystem.”
According to research conducted by the Internet Advertising Bureau in 2017, 90% of European industry stakeholders believe brands would spend more on digital channels if cross-media measurement capabilities were improved.
“We need one measurement system that's accepted across the industry otherwise it's just creating more confusion and at the end of the day the consumer experience would be worse,” Di Como said.
“There is a way to bring the industry together on something that's better for publishers, advertisers, and more importantly, the consumer.”
Additional reporting by Ginger Conlon