The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) has collaborated with some of the world’s biggest businesses to deliver both a framework and technical solution it claims will help the industry advance towards the “holy grail” of cross-media measurement.
The proposal seeks to give advertisers a much greater understanding of the reach and frequency of their advertising efforts across TV and digital media and will initially be tested out by brands in the UK and US.
A plan to standardise cross-media measurement
Last year, the WFA formed a Cross-Media Working Group – led by the likes of Unilever, Coca-Cola and P&G – to hasten adoption of a consistent, global measurement solution without having to take a different approach for each market.
Connecting the dots between different channels has long been a headache for advertisers, with a 2017 study from the WFA finding that 90% of brands would increase digital spend if cross-media measurement was readily available.
Following an 18-month project in which the WFA has worked with global brands, their national advertiser associations and platforms such as Facebook, the trade body has identified advertisers’ cross-media measurement requirements.
Following this, it’s produced a framework containing principles that advertisers believe all solutions should be bound by including transparency, neutrality and auditing.
Companies participating in the WFA programme, including digital platforms, were also asked to collaborate on a technical design proposal as a starting point for industry discussion.
The WFA’s solution could allow advertisers to reduce waste while making investments more effective with a higher ROI. In theory, it could also enable the sell-side to deliver better value inventory and avoid excessive ad frequencies.
Ok – so what does the technical solution look like?
The solution proposed utilises a panel and census approach (via publisher logs) to give advertisers far greater understanding of the reach and frequency of their campaigns across TV and digital media (including both video and other formats).
It leverages a Virtual ID (VID) and differential privacy methods to preserve privacy while preventing double-counting of impressions across media.
In delivering improved cross-media frequency control, the WFA says consumers will also benefit by not being unintentionally targeted by the same ad across different media channels, potentially addressing one of the key motivators behind ad blocking.
Critically, the proposal acknowledges that measurement is a local business and requires considerable local governance alongside the need for some global (or ‘common’) components to drive “consistency and scale”. Any aspects of the proposal that require bespoke technology will be open sourced.
“Advertisers have long struggled with poor quality data that doesn’t allow them to properly assess how best to invest their ad budgets across multiple platforms and media," said WFA chief exec Stephan Loerke.
"This body of work provides a blueprint to build a cross-media measurement solution that responds to advertiser needs."
What happens next?
The WFA tested the technical solutions via an international open comment and peer review exercise earlier this summer, organised by the WFA and involving several hundred of the industry’s most prominent measurement professionals.
The baton has now been passed on to national advertiser associations, and the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers’ (Isba) cross-media measurement group Origin.
In the US, the ANA will now independently explore how the components in the proposal can be adapted to suit local stakeholder needs, ahead of implementation in their respective markets.
Validation efforts will place particular care and focus on how TV data will be integrated with digital data within the product.
Both the UK and US initiatives will focus on ensuring the priorities of advertisers are met while also taking an approach that reflects the needs of broadcasters as well as the changing digital media landscape.
Several other markets and organisations are also looking closely at the components in the proposal, with a view to possible implementation on the back of the US and UK work.
“Cross-media measurement is viewed as the ‘holy grail’ for marketers – as it optimises marketing decision making for driving business and brand growth," said Bob Liodice, president and chief exec of ANA.
"This collaboration with WFA, ISBA and other partners has been galvanising as it provides the foundation to build local solutions to this highly complex issue."