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The Path to Accurate Measurement Requires an Evaluation of the Current Media Marketplace

Michael Bologna, president, CRO, HyphaMetrics
(Image credit: HyphaMetrics)

In the advertising business, it’s easy to state problems and demand change, but offering an unbiased solution compatible with the entire ecosystem is another story. 

Nielsen’s 2021 Annual Marketing Report found that brands of all sizes and categories have little confidence in existing measurement capabilities. T.S, Kelly, executive VP of Media Effectiveness at Carat, recently told Adweek that his biggest challenges include, comparing (campaign results) between measurement vendors, a lack of transparency in understanding campaign insights, and linkage to different data sets in the funnel. Put simply, his challenge is with advertising measurement’s lack of interoperability. 

This fundamental gap results in a disproportionately valued marketplace that hinders both the buy side and the sell side.

UPFRONT ECONOMICS

Our path to improved measurement requires us to examine the current state of the marketplace. What better place to start that evaluation than the 2021/22 upfront?

Few will argue that the demand to trade media holistically exists, and yet linear and digital markets continue to move in separate funnels. If we want to remove the silos between linear and digital to create a truly holistic view of the video marketplace, terms and conditions need to reflect that unified approach.

We continue to see a shift of linear TV budgets to CTV and other digital mediums, but we don’t have a holistic view of how these campaigns performed or a way to plan and evaluate audiences across all screens to optimal capacity. Planning, activation, and measurement of campaigns across all these different screens can happen in dozens of different products and platforms. 

This absence of true cross-channel measurement and the inability to de-duplicate audiences forces the industry to resort to work arounds. Instead of really understanding where their audiences are and targeting them precisely with the right message at the right time, buyers have resorted to methods such as frequency caps at a higher rate than usual. These caps serve as a buy-side defense against overexposure to the same audience and the potentially wasted dollars that go along with it, but they make it harder for media owners to fulfill schedules. 

CHANGING CONSUMER BEHAVIORS

In simpler times, a single currency could accurately reflect the true viewing behaviors of consumers. But as new devices and delivery methods have ushered in new viewing circumstances, existing measurement approaches have failed to deliver a unified reflection of these behaviors. 

Take binge viewing. This behavior tends to generate frequency over unique reach. This throws off the economic structure, as binge viewers are much harder to monetize than less frequent viewers. Things become increasingly complex when considering that binge viewing largely occurs inside walled garden environments,  making a true apple to apples comparison of viewers or households nearly impossible. 

“The demand for premium video has increased substantially,” said Neal Weinberg CEO of video exchange Addressable Media. “But so have the requests for more precise measurement across channels.  This has been evidenced by a large uptick in our Q4 business.” 

There needs to be a reconciliation of dollars spent across all forms of viewing in order for advertisers to confidently invest where their audiences are watching. And with M&A activity on the rise and changing OEM business models, the fragmentation will only grow-- leaving stakeholders on both sides of ad transactions scratching their heads. 

THE SEARCH FOR A SOLUTION

The industry requires measurement that is fundamentally cross screen, single source, 3rd party, consented, and completely neutral in order to provide a truly holistic picture of how people are interacting with media today. This will serve as a source of truth through which today’s disparate data sources -- from STB and Smart TV -- can be calibrated and device graphs can be validated. Self-reported data can only get us so far. Only with the integration of this neutral, cross-device, omnichannel data source will it become possible to qualify the appropriate value of impressions.

For legacy programmers to compete in a world that is increasingly dominated by a digital ecosystem, they need a way to deploy this type of data consistently and at scale. Data is not licensed universally to platforms or advertisers other than on a campaign basis, which makes it difficult for both the buy and sell side to adopt a consistent model for the benefit of driving incremental revenue.

LOOKING FORWARD 

Stakeholders across the media ecosystem have been vocal about the waning relevance of a single currency to trade media. Instead, we are moving toward a world where there will be multiple measurement solutions that work together interoperably. 

We collectively must standardize definitions to move towards a future with more granular insights and analytics to power the economics of our business. With the emergence of this network of interoperable data sources, we can democratize media measurement and create a better world for advertisers, media owners, and consumers alike.

Michael Bologna

Michael Bologna is president and chief revenue officer of HyphaMetrics, a data supplier offering an all-encompassing view of what the world is watching. HyphaMetrics’ single-source, cross platform data pipeline, known as Zero Party Data, provides precise, individual-level metrics needed for trading, optimization and analytics in today’s unique media environment.