IAB: The future of cross-media measurement is looking bright

The IAB has been undertaking a Future of Measurement project with media owners, tech providers, agencies and advertisers

The need for cross-media measurement is the standout recommendation from the upcoming IAB Future of Measurement report, due out later this month. But getting there will require cooperation and starting small.

The IAB has been undertaking a Future of Measurement project with media owners, tech providers, agencies and advertisers. The project entails a full review of audience and cross-media measurement, and will see the IAB deliver a plan that encompasses measurement solutions, standards for ad measurement, delivery and verification; as well as guidelines and best practices, with the goal of delivering data and meaningful metrics to marketers, agencies and publishers to enable them to assess opportunities and track performance in a complex cross media world.

While the surveyed media owners, tech suppliers, agencies and advertisers each had different priorities in terms of challenges needing to be addressed, they all agreed cross-media measurement was the number one  challenge to be addressed.

Final recommendations are yet to be announced by the IAB, but the association's CEO and head of the Future of Measurement project, Gai Le Roy, told CMO all stakeholders agreed cross-media measurement systems is the key challenge facing the industry as well as the biggest opportunity.

According to the upcoming report, cross-media measurement needs to involve content ratings, aligning and investing in ad audience ratings, linking metrics to ad delivery verification, and ensuring inputs into ad impact.

Stakeholders also agreed on six priorities moving forward, including retaining content ratings, developing CTV measurement capabilities, creating industry standards and transparency in ad audience reach and frequency, linking ad campaign audience data to verification services, and planning for the imminent death of the cookie and impending privacy changes.

Le Roy said IAB has been invested in digital measurement for 10 years, and has done qualitative and quantitative research to understand key stakeholders’ priorities.

“The number one priority is cross-media measurement - it’s about bringing it all together. This means different things to different people, but cross-media measurement from a ratings point of view across channels, that would be ideal, and we’re getting closer to that,” she told CMO. “Within this is high-yield video and this is a good place to start. Key to this is tagging the creative, not the environment, to know who’s seen a video campaign across channels.

 “This is going to be ongoing, but we can make a tangible start with video because the appetite for that oversight is really high. IAB is committed to providing the necessary governance and oversight moving forward.

“The common metrics from content ratings point of view is people and time. So we are looking at cross-media measurement to get those building blocks right. We are looking to the advertisers to work collaboratively with those across TV, radio and out-of-home, making sure we come to an agreement on common metrics. But we are closer than we have ever been to this.”

Le Roy also pointed out that due to privacy changes, some of the older tracking methods will no longer be able to be used, and privacy compliance is vital.

“Cookies will crumble, so to speak, so some of the tracking we are using to will be harder to do across digital. To this end, we think panels are going to increase, because you need humans to opt in to tracking behaviour,"  she said. "GDPR has cleaned up first-party data, and we’ll need a new way of looking at identity, and how to work around the cookie issue.”

CEO of the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA), John Broome, said while all stakeholders agree on the top priority moving forward, it will be an ongoing and iterative exercise.

“Australia is well positioned when it comes to measuring video and iterating out of this into other channels. A fusing together of panel data is probably the route to what we see as a single piece of paper with unduplicated reach and frequency, which allows us to optimise that mix and make informed decisions,” he said.

However, before this can happen, he said, it will require a mindset change, and cooperation from walled gardens.

“This has been seen as the holy grail of measurement, but also seen as being too hard in the past. But as technology improves, we are able to start this process, and ask the right questions around making this work," he said. 

“And increasingly it is looking like the walled gardens want to play, as the seed funding to get all this happening in the UK recently came from Google and Facebook. So the challenge goes back to other channels, who must ask: When do you take off your team shirt and put on your national shirt?

“That’s the challenge we have among media owners, agencies and practitioners. With digital content ratings, VOZ, a rich publisher environment, there is the opportunity between tracking and tagging to start to build this platform. And, ultimately it’s in everyone interest. Defending turf and building walled gardens is not a sustainable strategy for anyone."

The devil is in the detail. "No two channels operate in the same way, so how do we reconcile how the different channels work in the overall mix? We’ve also got to be flexible to allow buyers to choose their priorities,” Broome said.

Key to making this cross-media measurement idea work will be an agreement on metrics, something easier said than done. As Le Roy pointed out, it’s about making sure everyone is comfortable.

“There is a lot of scrutiny of data in market, so we need to make sure it’s right, plus more risk assessment is going on now. There will be differentiator on top of it, but having the base grade very important moving forward,” she said.

“We’ll be coming out with recommendations in a couple of weeks, and there is a lot of liaising to do before then. But digitisation of audiences keeps happening, so by nature it is all already coming together. We know advertising works well, even though currently the market is shy of spending. But to be able to prove advertising works overall, not just on one channel, but overall, is the goal.”

Broome also said Australia needs to look at what is happening in the measurement space globally, to ensure we fit into the mix.

“No one wants 20 different ways of doing the same thing. Global standards are likely, and will filter through to us,” he said.

Le Roy said it is about making sure domestic players can feed into those global standards in cost-effective way.

“It needs to be suitable for this market as well. We don’t want to take away someone’s data at all, but we do need common building blocks and an agreement moving forward," she said. “We want to plan for the future, but we can’t afford to do everything at once, so video is the right place to start, to get the quick wins.

“We also must ensure what we build today isn’t expensive and so unwieldy that if a new technology comes out, it breaks the system.”

Broome said key to all this future of measurement is simply making a start and that sometimes good "is good enough". 

“We have to have our feet planted on the ground, get started and make that first move. This way, we can demonstrate value to the ecosystem, which gives courage and builds that coalition of the willing, as opposed to arguing about it and never doing anything," he added. 

“We want the industry to start talking about this; we want advertisers to ask their agencies about when it’s coming and what they need to do to help. Ask the tough questions, and discuss how to solve them. Let’s not stick our head in the sand.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+:google.com/+CmoAu  




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