There is no denying the importance of data to inform the buy: make it smarter, more effective, more efficient and meet the agreed upon goals and objectives set by the client and media agency. Recently, most of the talk about data has come exclusively from the sales community. In each case they talk about their data, access to data and willingness to make it work for the buyer.

We haven't heard very much, if anything, from those people who are making the long term commitments on behalf of their clients. So let a former national broadcast negotiator take a look from his perspective.

First off, no argument: Data is important!

But part of the negotiator’s job is to look across all broadcast venues and purchase those that best meet the client’s needs. To do that and to compare one versus another you need data that measures and analyzes everything the same way.

As much as we clamor about Nielsen, we have relied on these ratings for many years. We know they are imperfect, but the methodology is there, a 2.0 AA rating has the same meaning everywhere, the nationally projectable sample is there and the consistency is there. It's a source that measures all broadcast options the same way.

How can a sound buying decision be made using different data from multiple sources? Can the buyer assume that all the data being put forth is nationally representative? Is using similar methodology? Is an unbiased third party source?

What about those broadcasters that do not appear to have data to inform the buys on their networks? Clearly I must use the data I have access to. It doesn't seem to make sense to make multi-million dollar decisions by looking at differing sets of data from multiple sources. I need my own, my ability to look at comparable data that measures everyone the same way, using the same methodology, allowing for a fair comparison of all my options.

It's really hard, if not impossible, to make purchase decisions when the options are being evaluated on different basis. Having said that, I applaud the networks’ initiative in introducing new metrics to measure effectiveness. But I need a common standard to make my dollar commitments, and until then I'll try to make use of your data in some other way. It's a positive incremental step in a long process that is just at the beginning.

So, thank you networks, but I will still make my buying decisions using the data I have that allows me to look at all of you on common ground.

The opinions and points of view expressed in this commentary are exclusively the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Media Village management or associated bloggers. Image at top courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.