An initiative in The Netherlands to develop an advanced, independent and cross-media audience measurement system incorporating the viewing, reading and listening of/to media and advertising across all platforms, represents a growing global trend among publishers who want to win back trust, both from audiences and commercial partners.
The Stichting Nationaal Onderzoek Multimedia (NOM), Stichting Nationaal Luister Onderzoek (NLO), Stichting KijkOnderzoek (SKO) and the Verenigde Internet Exploitanten (VINEX) - the four largest organisations involved in media research in the Netherlands - last month issued a Request for Proposal for the design and execution of a new media audience measurement system that would ultimately lead to a new, shared standard for measuring and reporting media and advertising reach across all media channels.
The move comes less than two months after the UK’s Published Audience Measurement Company (PAMCo) released a new audience measurement data ‘currency’, offering publishers and advertisers access to transparent audience measurement. The Audience Measurement for Publishers’ joint industry currency (JIC) allows users to look at audience delivery across all publisher platforms for the first time.
This in essence has unlocked the data of the audiences consuming publisher content on phone and tablet devices. It was not previously visible on the National Readership Survey, traditionally used to provide estimates of the readership of Britain's major newspapers and consumer magazines. The JIC is considered the most accurate estimate of the size and nature of audiences across mobile, tablet, desktop and print in the UK. In the words of Jan Gooding, chair of PAMCo, data use and measurement are coming under increased scrutiny. “The new data offers greater visibility and accountability to both publishers and advertisers, giving the industry renewed confidence in its advertising trading currency.”
In the US, the Association of Magazine Media (MPA) launched its MPA Magazine Media 360° Brand Audience Report as far back as 2014. At the time it was punted as “a more robust metric” promising to measure the reach of print media across print, digital, online, and video platforms. The monthly report metrics are measured by third-party media measurement and analytics providers such as GfK MRI, Ipsos and comScore and gives a comprehensive view of consumer demand for magazine media brands.
According to Linda Thomas Brooks, president and CEO of the MPA, the Magazine Media 360° Brand Audience Report has become the industry standard for measuring the total consumer audience, across formats and platforms and ensures that the magazine media is “held accountable to the most stringent measurement from accredited, third-party sources, which show it delivers better viewability, a more immersive user experience, a safer brand environment, and the highest return on advertising spend than any other medium”.
Last month the transparency and functionality of these metrics were advanced when the US Alliance for Audited Media (AAM) and MPA announced a partnership to integrate the MPA Magazine Media 360° Brand Audience Report directly into AAM Brand View, an online interface that helps publishers to build custom media profiles that feature AAM-verified third-party metrics alongside their key sales messages. It is visible to thousands of media buyers.
The partnership now allows for a tab in Brand View, called MPA MM360°, where report data is ready for activation in the profiles of all AAM clients who also participate in the MPA MM360° report. Managing partner and director of print at GroupM and vice chairman of the AAM board, Scott Kruse, says by publishing the MPA 360° metrics alongside AAM-audited data in Brand View, industry players have “a complete picture” of a brand’s audience.
In Asia, similar steps are afoot. Last year, in Singapore, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), a global company established to raise the profile of the digital industry, published ‘Connecting the Dots’. The white paper is a guideline to strengthen measurement frameworks in an attempt to also create more robust measurement frameworks for marketers and brands. The authors of the guideline - Damien Crittenden, Head of Strategy and Analytics with Xaxis Asia Pacific, and Alena Rossini, Executive Director, Strategy & Innovation with Kantar - argue that the overarching long-term question is how the digital publishing and advertising industries can assist brands to get to a point where marketers are confident about every dollar they spend. “The answer lies in being better able to understand the relationship between marketing investment and business outcomes.”
Similarly, in the Philippines, the Digital Measurement Board has recently started a process to create a digital standard with the aim to eradicate conflicting media metrics. Meanwhile Nielsen, the global information, data and measurement company with headquarters in the UK, announced earlier this month that it would expand its Nielsen Media Impact service to the Philippines. The Media Impact tool is a key part of Nielsen’s Total Audience framework and will help marketers better plan advertising campaigns across TV, radio, and print. The side-effect of this, says Nielsen, is that TV networks, radio stations, and print publications can use the same tool to plan how to be more competitive in today's media landscape.
Each of the initiatives listed above prove one thing: a host of global media players were happy to measure the worth and value of their products in exactly the same way decade after decade despite the digital revolution. While they stuck their heads in the sand no-one could accurately track or measure the value or reach of advertising in the digital space.
Yet, accurate measuring is integral to any brand’s business future, emphasises Clare O’Brien, head of industry programmes at IAB UK. “Brands have always measured the impact of the value of the media that they buy. They have to. It’s not a nice to have that sits on the edge - this is integral to a brand’s business because they know if they spend X amount on advertising they will sell Y number of products... this is not playtime, this is a very very serious business. That’s why we need measures and that’s why we need measures that are understood and acceptable by all parties in the chain.”
Pablo Gomez, head of media for the APAC region at media advertising consultancy Kantar Millward Brown, told The Drum magazine “It is clear that in an age of media diversification the industry needs to come together to identify a holistic way of measuring cross-channel performance”. This process needs to include brands, agencies and publishers “to create an alignment on the metrics that matter. This will give marketers the confidence to optimise their campaigns in real time, based on real-time measurements.”
Ultimately it’s a matter of trust, he says. “Trusted partners need to provide human insight and interpretation of these metrics to help marketers navigate the data… so that they can make better decisions about where to invest their budget.”
Despite the emergence of a common global trend towards the acknowledgement of the need for cross-media measurement tools, there is one important difference between what has been happening in the rest of the world and the recent Request for Proposal for the design a new media audience measurement system in The Netherlands. Whereas every single cross-measurement system globally have been developed by organisations and companies with vested interests in either the advocacy for specific media or planning tools to ease media buying, the Request for Proposal in the Netherlands is the first for a tender for independent cross-media coverage research supported by the entire country’s cross platform media-owners, broadcasters, as well as advertiser associations and media agencies.
It’s early days. The tender date for companies to show interest closed on 16 July. A decision is only expected some time in the autumn. The outcome will be worth waiting for. The initiators of the tender intend to set up a new organisation that will be responsible for the country’s new media audience measurement. They also intend a transition to a new single organisation and a organisational structure incorporating all players in the industry.
If they are successful, it could be a blueprint for the future of cross media measurement.
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