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Media Adtech Data & Privacy

At ANA Media, measurement’s future is hotly debated: ‘We need multiple measuring sticks’


By Kendra Clark | Senior Reporter

February 17, 2023 | 10 min read

Measurement took center stage at this year’s ANA Media conference, with experts spelling out bold predictions.

ANA Media conference

Media industry leaders debated the future of measurement at the ANA Media conference this week in Orlando, Florida / Kendra Clark

Media measurement – which has seen major disruption in recent years, with industry leader Nielsen losing credibility over alleged inaccuracies and top media buyers and sellers working together to create new cross-channel solutions – was a major topic of discussion among industry leaders at the ANA Media conference in Orlando, Florida this week.

Here are some of the key themes that emerged in this week’s conversations about measurement.

The breakdown of siloes

The walls are coming down, one way or the other, as more integrated approaches to measurement problem-solving, have become the norm, according to a panel of experts who spoke earlier today. “If you think about the efforts of the past, one of the issues is that they have been siloed,” said Kanishka Das, global e-business analytics and insights director at Procter & Gamble. “They have been either in digital or within the television [ecosystem] or across digital television. But that’s not how our consumers consume media. And frankly. that’s not how brands advertise.”

And not only is measurement system development in general more focused on addressing all parts of the media ecosystem – all players within that ecosystem are also being invited into the discussion. In particular, Das pointed out, brand marketers are no longer on the fringes of the conversation about media measurement and performance. “The unification of the marketers has been greatly enabling [toward this goal].”

And based on a handful of other conversations that played out during the conference, he’s right. His colleague Marc Pritchard, P&G’s chief brand officer and industry mainstay, yesterday pointed out the benefits that more precise measurement frameworks will bring to issues of ad frequency and effectiveness. He lauded, in particular, the ANA’s efforts to create new media measurement standards. “With data analytics and digital technology, we can more precisely reach who we want, cap frequency at a level that’s optimum for awareness, persuasion and a good consumer experience. And with the ANA’s cross-media measurement program well on its way, there's no reason we should see the same ad multiple times across broadcasters’ platforms.”

Other top brand voices from Molson Coors, the NFL and Albertsons touched on the challenges and opportunities of measuring the impacts of their media buys across channels.

The importance of interoperability

Cross-platform and cross-screen measurement is a top priority for media professionals today, evidenced in a range of conversations this week.

“Cross-media [measurement] is so imperative to marketers,” said Danielle DeLauro, executive vice-president at the VAB, a leading industry group working with the ANA and others to create new measurement frameworks.

In particular, effective cross-channel measurement equips marketers with the insights they need to make better media planning and buying decisions, DeLauro argued. “If there's anything that we know, it’s that … understanding what your entire investment is doing – and being able to pull those multiple levers appropriately and understanding how to reallocate dollars and optimize – is so important.”

It’s a sentiment that was echoed in another presentation today by Jay Pattisall, a principal analyst at Forrester. “Your signals will vary from channel to channel, and you’ve got to align the right way to measure. So for linear [for example], it's still about understanding its impact on viewership, reach, frequency and awareness – and not necessarily to deprioritize those metrics as [compared to] performance metrics. Look to the [media] mix and understand how you can measure things appropriately. That way, you can better package up a full understanding of how to use [the right channel for the right purpose].”

Reaching that point, in DeLauro’s view, will require a multi-currency marketplace. While many leaders in the measurement space – including Nielsen – are striving to create a single, universal solution that provides an apples-to-apples view of performance across channels and platforms, DeLauro, like many others, doesn’t believe it’s a likely outcome. Instead, she predicts that the ecosystem of the future will necessarily involve multiple measuring sticks.

It’s a model that joint efforts between the ANA and the VAB reflect. The organizations are together piloting a measurement framework based on calibration panels – which differ from Nielsen-style audience panels, and, in essence, aim to validate big data and identify audiences. The model being developed by the ANA and the VAB enables media and marketing professionals to, in theory, utilize any number of currencies they like.

“If you’re thinking about a calibration panel, one of the best benefits to it is the fact that no longer is the premium video ecosystem going to be counted based on the one ‘true’ set,” said DeLauro. “Now, marketers and buyers and sellers are going to be able to determine … what currency or what measurement provider they want to utilize, have confidence in those numbers [because providers’ numbers will be calibrated against a single source], and then be able to make the decision from there. This allows them to just have more comfort … and it puts that decision back where it belongs: in the buyers’ and sellers’ hands.”

A spotlight on privacy

Consumer data privacy – another hot-button issue for media professionals today, with signal loss being driven by tech titans like Apple and Google, as well as regulatory bodies cracking down on user data harvesting and trading – did not go unnoticed in conversations about measurement this week.

A core requirement of effective media measurement is the collection and analysis of consumer data – media buyers want to understand who saw which ad when, and what action, if any, a person took in response. It’s a reality tied up with privacy implications. “Increasingly, as you have a cross-media measurement system, you need to be able to join data and you need to be able to collect data from across different platforms and across different sources. But privacy is so important,” P&G’s Das said today. He pointed to an inter-organizational task force – of which P&G is a part – that is working toward creating a privacy-safe solution for panelist data exchange for measurement purposes.

To be sure, some media players feel more confident in their preparedness than others. “Consumer privacy and protection – obviously those are on the rise,” said Tracy-Ann Lim, chief media officer at JPMorgan Chase onstage yesterday. “And my peers and I in regulated industries have been on this journey for a while. We know how to navigate this world.”

Marketers operating in other, less-regulated categories, Lim suggested, would do well to take a page from banking’s playbook before the hammer comes down. “Our [data protection-centric] marketing practices are fungible, transferable and necessary – urgently necessary – across all categories,” she said.

An eye on multicultural media

Multicultural media was in itself a focus of discussion at ANA Media this week. P&G Pritchard endorsed an approach to marketing and media that “[reaches] all consumers and each consumer,” while Mark Prince, senior vice-president of economic empowerment at Dentsu Media urged media pros to prioritize “diverse-owned partners.”

Aside from supporting the inherent good of elevating equity in media and the benefit of helping to expand reach, investments in multicultural media can also help move the needle on measurement, Das said. “[We need to] develop advertising that's representative and relevant with unique insights, placing those ads in relevant [places]. Obviously, this resets the bar for measurement, because you need the measurement that's able to figure out who’s seeing your ads, how many times, for how long.”

Further, tapping into precise, specific insights about multicultural media and audiences will help to increase the general level of understanding that media and marketing folks can glean, Das said. “We need the granularity of multicultural audiences. That’s not there today. With the fragmentation of media, it’s increasingly difficult to get.”

The cross-organization measurement task force in which P&G is participating – which is overseen by the Media Rating Council – is making multicultural media insights a core piece of its focus. “One of the things that we’re planning for … is to start out and have multicultural media by design,” said Das. “This is a great initiative, from the standpoint of finally being able to make sure that all the representative information is actually there right from the start.”

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