Advertisers Take Responsibility for Fixing Cross-Platform Measurement and the Consumer Ad Experience

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On February 6, 2020, the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement (CIMM), led by Jane Clarke and now part of the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF), held its Ninth Annual Cross-Platform Measurement and Data Summit. The event — attended by numerous agencies, major networks, and research companies — featured panelists from P&G, Mastercard, and Unilever, as well as Google and Facebook.

What happened that day has never before happened at CIMM Summits, nor anywhere else in the world. I was very happy to have been invited and experience it firsthand. The advertisers spoke with one voice, vowing to see to it that cross-platform measurement was fixed and providing specific requirements to do so.

The requirements have been collectively set. What are they?

The highest priority is the consumer ad experience. Advertisers will no longer tolerate not being able to maximize that experience. Ben Jankowski, global media group head of Mastercard, is leading the charge of the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) along with Bill Tucker, group executive vice president of the U.S. Association of National Advertisers (ANA).

What's wrong with the consumer ad experience that they want to fix? A lot:

  • Frequency measurement needs to be able to let the advertiser know how many times a consumer sees an ad across all TV and digital — and someday all other media, too. Otherwise, how can they prevent ad fatigue? Why is that not happening now? Because each media company can report its own frequency of delivery for that ad, but no mechanism exists to add up those frequencies across silos.
  • Brands insist on knowing the program or other context their ads ran in, so they can ensure that each impression has the maximum positive effect. Since we all know now that context affects ad performance — and it's all about the specific psychologies in the ad and in the context — if an ad resonates, the impression is positive and immersive. Otherwise, it is generally less so; often by double digits.
  • The "Skip in 5 Seconds" paste-over of digital video ads denigrates the brand and its message.

How do these ad executives plan to address and fix these issues?

  • They will shift their spending to the media and research companies that provide frequency measurement and context details — and away from the others.
  • They will work collaboratively in a positive spirit with everyone else in the ecosystem to come up with the needed systems.
  • Those new systems must be interoperable and protect privacy. Consumers need to feel good about where this all goes.

Looking around at the superb research and data companies of today, they all have something unique and valuable to bring to the table. WFA/ANA's new can-do, get-it-done, no-stalling spirit creates an atmosphere that helps disenfranchised research companies and challenges incumbents, leaving plenty of room for them to step up.

Thinking about the companies that are best prepared to thrive in this new environment, 605 — a company I advise — is a major standout for many reasons. For one, it follows the same deterministic, transparent, cross-platform data quality track as TRA, a company I cofounded and sold to TiVo. However, 605 differs from TRA in a number of substantial ways. TRA started the big data, privacy-protected matching-for-ROI game, which is now being played by a thousand companies around the world.

But 605 has upped the game:

  • 21 million linear TV U.S. homes measured; 45 million addressable TV homes measured (has to be an addressable campaign involved). TRA had nothing addressable and total sample of 3.4 million.
  • 605 is getting data from DVR, linear, OTT, and VOD. TRA was linear and DVR.
  • Clients with access to customer-licensed MVPD data have been adding other set-top box data to 605, sometimes doubling the sample size.
  • 605 comes out of the cable/satellite industry and has established crosswalks with almost every major MVPD, so it is set up better than anyone else to provide the interoperability that the advertisers are calling for.
  • As CIMM leader Jane Clarke pointed out in her kickoff speech at the February 6 event, 605 is the first company to combine set-top box data with smart TV data.
  • 605 has been doing random control trials using the classic scientific method for clients for several years, which is a form of truth standard for ROI attribution.

But every research company is in for a field day in this new world the advertisers are creating.

The advertisers are strongly stepping away from business as usual to achieve business as it should be and has to be. Innovation leaders within all companies of all types should pop the cork on the Dom Pérignon. Sure, it won't be as immediately perfect as I make it seem; there will be plenty of ups and downs along the way, as is human nature. But bring forward your best ideas now — because the time to seize the day has arrived.

Thanks to the ANA, ARF, CIMM, and WFA for leading the way.

Don't stop now! Stay in the know on advertising trends and ROI strategies with more from Bill Harvey.

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