Increasing fragmentation of media, Apple’s cross-tracking clampdown, walled gardens building their walls ever higher, Google planning to flip the killswitch on third-party cookies, GDPR battles raging…

One would forgive even the most optimistic audience measurement industry connaisseur if a bit of gloominess were to seep into an otherwise sunny disposition. Indeed, in recent years there has been no shortage of alarmists both among ad tech vendors and measurement companies when talk fell upon the future prospects of both ad tech and measurement.

For market research companies, the World Federation of Advertisers’ North Star initiative has not done much to lift subdued spirits. When advertisers band together and take matters into their own hands, it represents a kick to the measurement industry. “Get your act together” is what advertisers are communicating.

Easier said than done. The task at hand is complex. There’s an ever-increasing number of potential advertisement channels; people access the internet from an average of 8+ devices, and social media and other media as well are closing off access and building walls around their inventory.

And it’s not like this complexity is going to go away anytime soon. What drives fragmentation at this point in time is ad budgets from linear TV diversifying toward digital, especially walled gardens.

Source: Jounce Media: The State Of The Open Internet, January 2020 + WARC data, Global Ad Trends: The Adspend Outlook, February 2020

Based on my own (at times painful) experience, I can testify that it is a huge technical and methodological undertaking to build a measurement system capable of providing solid estimates for reach and frequency in specific target groups across the plenitude of media that are brought to use in a typical digital ad campaign.

At AudienceProject, we have for years provided our clients with such a rather sophisticated cross-media audience measurement solution addressing advertiser needs. We have built our own tech stack and methodology, established custom-built integrations with various platforms, all in order to be able to provide advertisers with cross-media audience measurement within the open web, as well as non-cookie ecosystems like Facebook, YouTube, CTV, and even integrate with linear TV data.

Abandoning third-party cookies is a good thing for the measurement industry.

However counterintuitive as it may appear, this is why we can safely say, to take an example, that Google’s decision to abandon third-party cookies is, in fact, a boon for the market research industry.

Why is this? Well, to tell you the truth, you can say a lot of things about market researchers. Some of us wear big glasses and have weird hairdo’s, and we love odd t-shirts. But our peculiarities aside, if there’s one thing we’re good at, it’s dealing with incomplete data. In fact, that’s the whole point of market research. We’re good at inferring from some, incomplete, dataset to the whole population.

Not many people think about this, but so far, the demand for this capability has not been as big in digital as it was in more traditional media. The reason is simple. Why care about all these complicated statistical procedures when the general sentiment in the market often was; why bother! My ad server drops a cookie for every impression I buy, and that’s all I need to keep count of.

Obviously, cookie bean-counting as a means to measure digital campaigns has been hopelessly flawed for a long time. But now it’s obvious for all to see.

What great news for Market Research this is!

How’s one supposed to have the faintest idea about how many times and how many in my target group are reached by a campaign run across multiple walled gardens, iOS inventory, and soon to be cookieless Chrome inventory? Not possible unless the campaign is measured by a system built on advanced inferential statistics, graph technology and well-balanced panels. Enter Market Research.

Sure, the measurement challenge of digital most certainly demands a new approach to technology and the inclusion of new methodologies such as machine learning. But at its core, we’re still using the good old statistics of classical market research such as weighting of panelists, extrapolation from census and sample to reach in target group and more, only now embedded in and reinforced by powerful software.

Interested? I encourage you to download and read our latest white paper with more detail and client stories: “Advertisers’ North Star within reach – Cross-media audience measurement in today’s media industry“.

Or, even better, set up an e-intro meet directly via hello@audienceproject.com.

This article is part 4 of 4 in our series: Life beyond third-party cookies

About the series:

Google decision to phase out support for third-party cookies in Chrome has led to concerns on how the ad-tech ecosystem will be influenced. In this series of articles, AudienceProject addresses those concerns and explains why Google has made the right move.