As Measurement Data Grows More Transparent, It's Vastly Expanding

By 4A's InSites Archives
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The variety of research used by agencies to measure client campaigns has grown significantly, and sometimes in unexpected ways. At the same time, transparency and accountability have increased. Those were two of the main takeaways from a 4A's Decision conference panel session on measurement that took place last week.

"One of the most positive outcomes that I've seen over the last few years is a falling out of what I would call opaque measurement approaches -- whether that was platform-owned or some dubious methodologies that people were using on top of user-level data," said Alison Latimer Lohse, Executive Vice President, Global Strategic Solutions at the agency Essence.

"I feel like a bright line has been shined due to changes in tracking and impacts on accuracy of the data that the clients own," she added. "There's a renewed emphasis on independent measurement. And brands are really starting to own that conversation."

On a separate front, DDB has started to source data that it probably wouldn't have looked at in the past, said Jatinder Singh, Chief Data Officer at DDB, North America. "For example, from the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] -- what's happening with COVID? How is that data being reported, and how is that impacting our clients' businesses?"

DDB has a data platform that examines a huge amount of societal and cultural data, along with patent-filing data, Singh noted. It gives DDB a better understanding of culture today, and how its transforming, which helps the agency better craft client strategies.

Singh said that his group is measuring and evaluating creativity with tools developed in-house and some from other sources. In that way, it can figure out things like how to identify emotional connections with consumers. "My team has built a suite of algorithms to understand how we connect with brands emotionally, and then how do we move the needle?"

DDB uses a tech stack called Omni that collects data from 74 markets. "It's got data across demographic lifestyle, psychographics, shopper behavior, walled garden and browser behavior" at the individual level, Singh explained. "Think of it as a spreadsheet with 220 million rows of data and 11,000 columns. That's our starting point." If a client allows for it, first-party data can be melded in. "We then build algorithms that help us understand brand demand," he added.

Nielsen, in turn, continues to evolve its audience and outcomes measurement capabilities. Imran Hirani, Vice President, Strategic Insights at the company, noted that it now tracks streaming viewership not only at the household level, but the person level. With television "we're planning to measure at the sub-minute level," he said. "That allows us to get digital and TV to be more comparable to each other."

Last month, the research firm unveiled its Nielsen ONE Alpha product. It provides data on a "cross-screen de-duplicated audience across TV, CTV, mobile and computers -- the whole video picture," Hirani explained. "We're going to continue building on that capability." He added that companies that have used Alpha, including Walt Disney Co. and MAGNA, have given Nielsen "great feedback."

The session's moderator, Nathalie Bordes, Executive Vice President, Measurement at the Association of National Advertisers, asked the panelists if it made sense to just have one currency, which might be derived from multiple metrics. "Is there one that would work for advertising measurement, content measurement, potentially creative measurement ... and can it come from one provider?" she asked.

"I really struggle with the idea of a single currency," said Latimer Lohse. "If you were to take it across different industries, it looks and feels so different, because of the different businesses -- because of the type of data you're working with, because of the media exposure."

There's an "interesting conversation" to have about the future of the impression as a currency, so that it connects across systems and its measurement improves, she continued. "But it feels like it's only one layer of a currency that should exist to connect advertisers."

Nielsen's Hirani said that he "fully supports" the need for different ways to measure the effectiveness of content, creative and media. In his view, history has shown that "the markets prefer having these single currencies for audience measurement. Most marketers don't want to stitch together one measure for one media platform and another measure for another media platform, all aggregated together. It's the opposite of what our clients are telling us. So, it depends on what you mean by currency."

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