Cross-platform video consumption has created a wealth of new opportunities for media buyers and sellers. But it has also presented significant challenges, not the least of which is how to develop new measurement methodologies that more efficiently facilitate buying and selling of media across devices and channels.
Buyers and sellers are growing clearer about what they would like to see from measurement technology and methodologies as they develop. They want solutions that accurately and precisely represent the entire U.S. population at scale to enable advanced media targeting across platforms, moving beyond just age and gender. Additionally, they want as close as possible to "real-time" ratings for ads and content across both TV and all other digital devices and the ability to buy across platforms using the same metrics.
But how to accomplish this? What does the industry need to do to enable delivery of these new tools? Here is what the members of Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement (CIMM), comprised of the industry's leading television content providers, media agencies and advertisers, have discussed as critical moving forward. These issues and more will be discussed at CIMM's upcoming 5th Annual Cross-Platform Media Measurement and Data Summit. Here are the key points:
1. Embrace a competitive marketplace for cross-platform measurement. In order to foster continued innovation, buyers and sellers need to embrace more than one cross-platform currency.
2. Solutions need to meet an MRC standard. A Media Ratings Council committee is drafting a cross-platform audience measurement standard for duration-weighted, non-fraudulent, valid, viewable impressions. Different currency providers can coexist, if they at least all meet this standard, as is the case in digital measurement today. Rolling measurement for both content and ads needs to be accommodated, to allow for differential reporting by content genre and length of ad campaigns.
3. Panels aren't enough. Even Nielsen has finally conceded that census-type data are needed for all platforms, including TV. Panels can be used to calibrate non-representative datasets, but they are no longer sufficient on their own.
4. Census-like TV usage data are coming inevitably from smart TVs. Even if not all of the multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) make their data available to create an optimal nationally representative footprint, vendors are figuring out how to model the data they don't have, either from panels using meters or automatic content recognition (ACR) technology, or in combination with data from smart TVs.
5. Measure out-of-home across TV and digital. Currently, TV measurement is based on viewing at home, whereas digital census tags are able to report viewing on digital devices in any location. TV measurement needs to also provide out-of-home viewing, either through a device such as the portable people meter or an audio ACR app on a portable device or smartphone. This could also potentially be accomplished through the incorporation of return path data from MVPDs and/or smart TVs that are located in public places, although "viewer assignment" in such environments is challenging.
6. Offer both household and individual measurement. Many of the new purchaser and behavior datasets being used by marketers are only available at the household level, so measurement needs to accommodate both household and individual measurement.
7. Provide transparency in segment definitions and methods of linking "identity." There are so many segment definitions that it would be challenging to standardize all of them, but data providers need to provide transparency into how the segments are created, the source of the data, and the rate at which data are refreshed. Additionally, methods for cross-device and cross-channel identity linking need to be transparent and tested for accuracy against trusted sources of first-party data.
8. Adopt standardized asset metadata. Everyone in the media ecosystem needs to adopt and implement standardized master metadata for both ads (using Ad-ID) and content (using the entertainment ID registry) to improve efficiencies in workflows and enable more accurate reporting to enable closer to "real-time" measurement. CIMM and the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers are working on an open standard to embed metadata into a watermark, but full implementation of the metadata registries is needed in order to achieve the workflow benefits.
Two big transformations are colliding in the media industry -- the growth of fragmented media consumption across the plethora of digital devices and the increased availability of purchasing and behavioral datasets that more precisely define audience segments for marketers. New cross-platform measurement solutions need to address both of these transformations.