There is a necessary focus on cross-media measurement in our industry today. In this post, whilst trying to outline what can be meant by cross-media measurement, I will also try to outline what can currently be achieved by it as there seem to be some ‘myths’ emerging in (virtual) industry discussions recently.

What is cross-media measurement?

In a nutshell, cross-media measurement is the attempt to understand consumer exposure to advertising across all the platforms/channels the consumers might have been exposed on. In other words, it is the path to the elusive single customer view.

The biggest media currently front and centre in the cross-media measurement debate, tend to be linear TV, BVOD and CTV, plus the larger social media platforms who are in a position to serve video ads at scale (I’ll acknowledge but not get into discussing the differing views on quality here).

So for the purpose of this post, I’m talking about the tying together of premium video audiences where they can be measured – it remains unfortunate that the larger BVOD platforms are still very much walled gardens to third-party audience measurement today.

Anyway, in the world of virtual conferences, there is a lot of excellent commentary, excitement and information, but within these, some points related to cross-media measurement that I would like to give my thoughts on:

  • There is no cross-media measurement capability today

Wrong! Whilst it is true there is no JIC-sanctioned industry-standard, AudienceProject and a couple of other companies are already doing it. Sometimes it’s about smart partnerships (tune in to the MAD//Anywhere event on 11 November to hear me discuss this with a marketing client).

  • (Linear) TV is dead

Absolutely wrong! In fact, it’s strengthened this year. According to Thinkbox, linear TV viewing went up 12% post lockdown. There are trends which obviously concern marketers, but we are not exactly in the ICU yet! To be fair, in recent webinars this point has also been well disputed with good data by key agency buyers.

  • It’s all about AVOD/CTV

Well, it could be… soon. Certainly, these channels are on the rise and increasingly additive to linear TV. The rise of CTV is a fascinating development with serious potential for viewers, buyers and publishers alike, especially as SVOD fatigue sets in (according to Deloitte, 47% of US consumers say they’re frustrated by the growing number of subscriptions and services required to watch what they want). The right-thinking as we see it is about clever, evidence-based, planning and buying across linear TV and the emerging digital TV and video opportunities. The excitement about CTV also needs to be anchored to transparent, panel-based, measurement of it (and I’m thinking about BVOD here too), as that will support the growth that is on everyone’s minds.

  • Walled gardens are impenetrable

Not so, although you might need a bit of a ladder to see into all of them, which is possible now. The key is being able to de-duplicate across their reporting, which is also possible with the right panel and methods.

Whilst the debate will continue, there is definitely consensus that cross-media measurement is vitally important to all players in the industry.

Why is cross-media measurement important?

Very simply put, it is vitally important because consumers consume media in a cross-media manner – in fact, in a multi-media manner, with new consumption points being added to the mix every quarter (or sooner!).

If you are a marketer or planner/buyer, cross-media measurement is required in order to correctly allocate budget for the maximum effect at the most efficient price. Reach, frequency and ultimately ROI need to be optimised – and cross-media audience understanding is the key. The question we get asked most is: “How much additional reach is my digital video buying adding to my TV curve?”. And for digital video channels and publishers, it is the measurement that will prove they have the incremental audiences in abundance and thus help drive their commercial acceleration.

More bluntly, without properly tying together the total net consumer exposure to a campaign, the guiding planning principle is going to be guess-work, and that’s hardly going to reassure the CFO or provide a robust strategy to beat the competition. For linear TV, all marketers, platforms and planners/buyers share the same data set (BARB in the UK) – but it is understanding the whole picture that is now crucial, as viewing increasingly takes place in non-linear environments.

For example, if you know from pre-testing that your (brilliant) ad needs to be seen three times to have the maximum brand or intent-shifting impact, and the product you are advertising for is viable for 50% of the population, how can you then ensure that your marketing achieves this reach and frequency across so many (apparently) non-connected media channels? The opportunity for wastage or over-bombardment is enormous.

And what if you can use cross-media measurement to drive improvement – as a buyer or seller? If the old ‘half my marketing works’ adage remains true (I think it does – an aggregated sweep of our EMEA campaign measurements in late 2018 showed only 48% of impressions reached the desired target group), imagine finally being able to improve on that!

For example, (using the language of digital rather than linear TV and GRPs), if you deployed a £1m budget at an average CPM of £10, and reached 75% of your target audience rather than 50%, you would have reduced your cost per in-target impression from a CPM of £20 (50% in target) to £13 and change (75% in target)!

That level of cross-media understanding obviously brings a very material business outcome in terms of budget efficacy and potentially also ROI. Audience providers proving this value will be top of the shopping list too!

What is the current status for cross-media measurement?

Whilst there may not be an industry-accepted currency for cross-media measurement, it is already possible today; the present Modus Operandi being the careful fusion of existing but separate methodologies and data sets. It is, however, paramount that a research-driven qualification of the methods and data is taken to avoid any bias and potential pitfalls.

Nevertheless, brands recognise that, on a global scale, audience measurement is lagging behind how consumers engage with media, hence the much required globe-spanning WFA initiative, to establish a modern framework for cross-media measurement. In the UK, the WFA principles realise themselves within the Project Origin initiative (also very focused on TV/video). Origin takes the guiding North Star principles from the WFA output and is working towards a UK cross-media measurement solution. This journey has begun, but with a lot of stakeholders from all sides of the industry, it might take some time to agree on relative value, but it is definitely an interesting route ahead and an endeavour that we support.

How does AudienceProject work with cross-media measurement?

I’ve mentioned that a lot is possible today – this view obviously comes largely (but not solely) from our own capabilities and experience.

Here’s how AudienceProject approaches cross-media measurement today.

We have a large panel in the UK (400,000 active panelists currently), representative of the UK online population. Our panelists are seen when they interact with a campaign that we are measuring, which enables us to deliver highly robust real-time reports on digitally-delivered campaign reach, frequency and audience composition. This all comes from a very strong truth data set, enabling highly accurate extrapolations.

Pretty much any digital media taking a measurement pixel (including most CTV inventory, except BVOD) can be counted, and we are able to understand and re-state (walled garden) platform reach and frequency – and crucially de-duplicate that against other digital media. Where pixels are undesirable to the publisher, it is a relatively simple process to safely and compliantly ID match to surface panelist exposure (or not).

For the process of measuring cross-media (meaning premium digital video and TV), we have a long-standing and well-ratified fusion methodology via the TechEdge AxM (AdvantEdge Cross Media) module to bring the panels together. We don’t measure linear TV – that is the job of the approved JIC (BARB in the UK).

We know it works and look forward to the evolution of cross-media measurement in the UK and other markets.

Learn more

If you want to learn more, you can register and join the MAD//Anywhere event on 11 November at 12.30 pm to hear me talk to a leading marketer (and client of ours) about his view and experiences of cross-media measurement thus far. And if you can’t make it, we’ll make sure to share the recording afterwards!