Data, Data Everywhere in the Upfront: An Overview -- Part 4

By Media Insights Archives
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This is the fourth part of a five-part series examining the new data initiatives of major data companies. Parts 1 through 3 outlined the many data initiatives, their scalability and whether their services were gaining traction in the industry.

Here, I ask whether there should be a standard metric that helps to link all of these initiatives and if so, what should that metric be? (You can read Parts 1, 2 and 3 of the series here.)

Bill Feininger, President of MassiveData, a division of FourthWall Media, is immersed in the reportage aspect of set top box data. “In my opinion, impressions and reach are the most meaningful in measuring ad target performance and delivery to specific audience segments,” he says. As you will see in the following quotes from media company executives, while there is some consensus for delivery, there is also a growing interest in ROI, engagement, segmentation and a measurement metric that may vary from company to company.

My take: If there is to be serious consideration for cross company data services scalability (as well as an industry accepted cross platform measurement) we need to agree on a standard metric. It could be delivery. It could be reach. It could even be a form of ROI, although that might be harder to standardize across advertising categories. But if we cannot agree to a common measurement metric, our ability to create an industry-wide measurement for the 21st century that is not based on “proxies” of age and gender is severely compromised. And if we continue to rely on age/gender, we will not realize the true value of Big Data in our media currency.

Question 4: Do we need a standard metric with all of these data innovations? If so, then what should it be?

David Poltrack (Chief Research Officer, CBS Corporation and President of CBS VISION): We need to be able to employ the new metrics across the full range of platform and programming options. However, the metrics used by each marketer are likely to vary considerably. This limits the benefits of standardization.

Tom Ziangas (Senior Vice President, Research and Insights, AMC Networks): I would prefer a “common” metric and they should be time spent, reach (duplicated and unduplicated) and gross average impressions.

Paul Haddad (Senior Vice President and General Manager, Advanced Data Analytics, Cablevision Media Sales): Today, the advertiser demand for a standard metric has been increasing and we view the evolution to an audience impression measurement as a viable solution to accommodate the multi-screen aspect of media planning.  Census-level data provides more stability with audience segmentation -- unlike sample-based methods that break down with audience fragmentation. There is a growing amount of data available; however, it remains in silos and the industry would benefit from a more formalized structure to normalize the data. Once a connection is made for the disparate datasets we will have a complete, holistic view of consumption and the ability to reach audiences based on how consumers consume.

Beth Rockwood (Senior Vice President, Market Resources, Discovery Communications): In order to have a marketplace, at least for the near term, it is important to have a standard metric.  This will continue to be age/sex demographics, as measured by Nielsen.  As advertisers and networks become more comfortable with new data sets, we will begin to place a greater priority on behavioral targets, and tip more towards these metrics, since they are closer to clients’ KPIs.

Katie Larkin (Executive Vice President, Advertising Sales Research and Strategy, NBCU): We are at a time in our industry where we need to move beyond age and gender. We can be more precise with consumer and behavioral targeting. Technology has changed the world by giving consumers more access and more choice. Reach and concentration of target audiences are key metrics for marketers to target today's audiences. Beyond that, we have the potential to provide ROI analytics which varies by client based on their KPIs.

Mike Rosen (Executive Vice President, Advertising Sales, NBCU): When any marketer is looking for a competitive advantage in their category, standardization doesn’t give you a competitive advantage. You need a unique way to measure against a unique strategy.

Geri Wang (President, Ad Sales, ABC): We need to agree that the unit of trade will continue to be the impression and, as digital and linear TV evolve to similar addressable models, that we are counting impressions the same way. Today, TV ratings are based on average minute commercial ratings and digital inventory is based on ad-served impression counts with varying degrees of viewability and fraud factored in.  We need a common cross-platform impression definition so that addressable ads can be counted and managed equitably.  Additionally, we need to recognize that as data offerings “fragment” and become proprietary, it will be much more difficult for buyers and sellers to evaluate the marketplace on an apples-to-apples basis.  Some level of industry standardization around audience segmentation will be required for the marketplace to evolve in a scalable fashion.

Kern Schireson (Executive Vice President, Data Strategy and Consumer Intelligence, Viacom): With the many ways content is being consumed, we are focused on continuously evolving and innovating our data capture and proprietary predictive methods in order to bring advertisers precisely to the consumers they want to engage with meaningfully. The impact of engagement is more relevant than ever, and that’s a key area of focus for us.

Hanna Gryncwajg (Senior Vice President, Sales, RLTV):  I'm not sure we can get to a fully standard metric considering all of the different data available today. That said, I do think the industry would move quicker to scalable metrics if there were some broad category standards and, within those categories, specific attributes that could be bundled together with an algorithmic application.  This would also enable small/independent networks and big media companies to be able to compete in the same format.

Part 5, to be published next week, gives the nod to research and asks the questions: What is the status of the research department in your company? Has the data imperative changed the perceptions of your departments? If so, then how?

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 MediaVillage management or associated bloggers.

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