The Media Tower of Babel and the industries desire to babble on

October 29th, 2023 | Chris Williams, Chris Williams, Chief Marketing Officer, Arima

At a recent conference, the position was posed by a YouTube rep that one day, Connected TV will be just thought of as TV. No more SVOD, AVOD, BVOD, Broadcast, Cable, FAST, Specialty, Top 10, YouTube; it will all be One Thing.

What is that Thing and is it useful to advertisers?

The simple answer is “of course”.

But, and it’s a huge BUT, language matters and in that difference lies just how useful it could be.

The current Broadcast/Digital Video conglomeration of sellers and buyers is a Tower of Babel debate. For some, its deliberate while others are blissfully unaware that flour and corn starch are being used interchangeably. The difference matters when your objective is cake.

Ads are not content.

Measuring ads and measuring content are two wildly different numbers. When we talk about measurement, we need to be clear which one we are talking about.

Currency and metrics.

Currency is what’s on the contract, if that number is not met, there is a make good. Metric is just a number. It can be an important number. It can be estimated or actual, future or past, precise or accurate, but it is not the terms of trade. Consider how important the cost of flour is to the success of baking a cake.

Some currencies include audience, others do not.

A rating point is % reach towards an “industry agreed upon audience” out of the universe.

Impressions are against anybody. Sometimes nobody if bot traffic isn’t filtered.

The “industry agreed upon audience” might not even be who the advertiser is interested in and then there needs to be a conversion between industry enforced currency and advertiser defined audience as a metric.

Cross platform is less than cross media.

The latter is clear, it’s all media. If we are talking about the ad, the media budget can be spent anywhere from TV to skywriting, it all works to some degree. The question is, what is deduplicated Reach across all media and why is it important?

Cross platform is a lot less clear. Is it an ad across all the media which can host it? Eg A video ad, running in digital video, on TV? What about a video ad running on a newspaper brand’s site?

What about measuring the content across the various platforms provided by one media supplier? Media vendors need to be able to see their whole audience footprint across their platforms and how their content can be monetized in each media format.

For advertisers, cross platform ad measurement is about formats and creative. Tactically, what is the reach/frequency for this message, this creative, with this talent and rights agreement. Cross media is the strategic holistic campaign with interplay of media formats, top and lower funnel, that can be tied to outcome analysis and subsequent planning.

Delivery vs forecast.

Currency needs a delivered number whereas much of the time forecasts and estimates work very well. If you bought 5, you want to know that you got 5. 6 is a bonus, 4 is a make good.

Means vs ends.

In media, getting 5 of whatever is just a means. It was never the objective. Putting a lot of effort into accurately measuring the means (the currency) helps provide clarity on the route towards achieving the outcome but the outcome metrics must be aligned and in place.

There is no cross media currency.

The media vendor can only be responsible for their own delivery. The campaign is the sum of multiple media vendors each using different currencies. It’s an aggregation of data from Numeris, Vividata, COMMB, Google, Meta, Amazon and others. The cumulative deduplicated cross media metric will never be a currency however as an advertiser focused metric, whether it’s a forecast, estimate or a delivery, it is extremely useful. The scope of outcome analysis is cross media, planning is cross media.

Walk, Run, Swim.

Innovation and movement towards one media measurement system does not necessarily enable subsequent developments. In fact, they might even impede them or simply be dead ends. Media and outcome measurement is now a fluid space for development as cloud computer, AI and machine learning are applied to data. Caveat Emptor.

As the industry discusses The Thing, we must be super clear with the language.
Innovation in media measurement without precision is not a conversation. Without precision, we cannot understand who The Thing will primarily serve.

Chris Williams is the Chief Marketing Officer of Arima, a leading data-driven marketing platform. With over 30 years of experience in the advertising industry, Chris has witnessed and shaped the evolution of digital media and communications. Chris leverages his expertise in business strategy, creative ideas, problem solving, and digital media integrity to help clients achieve their goals and grow their brands.