“Data-Driven Thinking" is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.
Today’s column is written by George W. Ivie, CEO and executive director at the Media Rating Council.
In an advertising industry that is defined by data and measurement in a way that few other sectors are, there's possibly no more desirable goal than cross-platform measurement.
It is an objective that a range of industry consortia have been devoted to. The challenge they have all faced is formidable – and for good reason; true cross-platform measurement is an incredibly complex issue, both a technological problem and a business problem. Perhaps most importantly, it is a challenge of coordination, cooperation and consensus building.
At its core is the requirement for a common set of metrics to compare the performance of a video advertising campaign running on linear television, video on demand, streaming video or on a proprietary app platform. To accomplish this, the industry must have common approaches for measuring and reporting that can be used across all platforms by independent third parties. We need to normalize impression and audience measurements across all media platforms, insofar as possible.
The opportunity to align on what those metrics and approaches should be – and to take that critical next step – is drawing near.
Next week, the Media Rating Council will issue for public comment a draft version of our cross-media audience measurement standards for video. It culminates the hard work of nearly 300 people, representing about 175 organizations from all sectors of the industry, who participated in our standards development working group. A second phase, to address non-video media, will be undertaken later.
These standards will serve as a framework for measuring and reporting audiences for ads and content across video that are viewable, filtered for both general and sophisticated invalid activity, assigned to an audience segment (or in target), in consideration of duration of exposure, comparable and able to be deduplicated across media and delivery types. Deduplication is extremely difficult and practices are evolving, so the document contains a range of guidance in this area, sometimes in concept.
The standard looks to provide a consistent set of definitions for key elements of cross-media measurement. It will create a consistent framework to facilitate and advance cross-media comparability and recommends minimum disclosures for measurement data users.
They also aim to establish recommended research operating practices, define minimum requirements and best practices, while encouraging experimentation and advances to improve cross-media research quality and comparable measurements of exposure. The document also stands as a good educational primer with plenty of detail (believe me) about methods.
The intent is to establish methods and common practices for organizations that use cross-media audience-based metrics. Lastly, they also create a recommendation and benchmark for audit processes, making it possible for the practices and disclosures of cross-media audience-based measurement organizations to have MRC accreditation.
The standards will be ineffectual without the most important ingredients: consensus and cooperation. That’s where you come in. Please provide comments.
True cross-platform measurement is as much a challenge of the industry working together as it is a challenge of technology or business concerns. The standards will be modified as needed based upon feedback, but their power will come from eventual alignment and investment.
The ultimate prize will emerge only when we all agree about what it looks like. Much of that consensus has already been advanced during the drafting process, but there is certainly more to do.
We invite you to read the draft of the standard when it is published, give feedback, challenge it or praise it – but, most importantly, invest in it.
A common approach for compiling and reporting measurement and the underlying principles upon which that process is based can only come into focus when we all agree what those principles should be. That moment is now.