Media Measurement: One Currency? Multiple? Does It Matter?
In the last century, the advertising community lived in a world where there were TV ratings — and then measurement of “other media.” All media metrics ultimately led to reach, frequency and GRPs. It was “easy” and understood throughout the industry.
(In all honesty, the currency was understood in that it was the one marketers were taught to look for. They did not necessarily understand the actual relevance or nuance of the metrics or the methodologies that created the metrics. The belief was “more is better”).
In today’s world, we seem to be easing into a model in which each platform has its own set of metrics and methodologies. Variety wrote last month: “For weeks, TV executives have been transfixed by seemingly endless episodes in which their own networks, upstart tech companies, Wall Street heavyweights and Madison Avenue stalwarts all try to figure out how to count media audiences in an era when many of them turn to streaming services to watch their favorite series.”
I can tell you, it’s not just “TV executives” who are transfixed, but the whole advertiser world. Agencies, marketers, platforms, all of us are trying to understand what option seem the most promising.
NBCU is betting on “Together,” saying “In this era of new currencies, we need multiple trusted yardsticks that can measure ad campaign impact in its entirety—from emotion to content to conversion, and everything in between.” It is probably one of the most forward-thinking companies at the moment, not only forging a collective of NBCU-accredited measurement partners, but also making this open-source.
Of course the problem is that if you are Disney, Meta, Alphabet or the Chinese government TikTok, this approach is at best a sidebar, or worse, a competitive move that could harm your ability to sell. And so they all have their own measurement suites. Meanwhile Nielsen is fighting for the survival of its longstanding TV measurement currency, relevant for those buying linear or cable TV.
So as an advertiser, how do you measure now, since you are buying across a multitude of walled gardens, each with their own set of metrics? How do you measure the reach of a show that is owned by Hulu, streamed across platforms of Hulu, Amazon and Apple? Some with ads, some without?
The answer is that the industry should come together and figure this out. But that goes against so many principles and protectionist interests that it’s more likely significant gun or voter reform will pass through our political system!
Maybe we have to turn to faith leaders for clarity. Here’s an appropriate quote from Thomas S. Monson, president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: “When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported back, the rate of improvement accelerates.”
Thus my recommendation is to work with your agency and collect all relevant-to-you metrics and data points, and try to make sense of them together. Define your objectives really clearly upfront. If you are ultimately selling something online and/or through stores, what metrics can help you get as close as possible to understanding the impact of your investments toward that goal? If you are trying to change a target audience’s perception of your product or service, what metrics matter towards that?
Let me know how it all worked out, will you?