Cross-Platform Agonistes: Measurement’s Still A Problem, But Blame Content Too

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February 15, 2012 – 3:56 pm

One main thing continues to hold back the mutual desire on the part of advertisers, agencies and media companies for more cross-platform deals between TV and online video: the lack of a standard metric that will allow for easy comparisons for ad effectiveness.

That was the consensus of a panel at the multi-industry trad gathering (the ANA, 4A's, CIMM, ARF) called the Cross Platform Media Summit in New York. Of course, given the focus on research, the conversation was naturally skewed toward the pressing the apples-to-oranges measurement situation, as opposed to say the obdurate silos that still exist between digital and traditional, though those walls have become thinner and more porous the last few years.

Still, as one panelist, Ed Erhardt, president of ESPN Global Customer Marketing and Sales, noted, “We shouldn’t be thinking along the lines of mobile/tablet/PC. It’s all just video, no matter where you use it. But whether it’s worth the same, that’s a different story.”

Figuring out the worth of advertising in 2012 is at the heart of the media fragmentation that has only been building for the past 20 years. In a sense, the groping for a single measurement that explains how the various media devices and formats reinforce each other – or don’t – is why measurement remains such a deep-seated problem. And, as Collen Fahey Rush, EVP/chief research officer for Viacom Media Networks, alluded to, there’s billions of dollars in ad spending and analytics tools being brought to bear on all media.

A sea of data: “We create a lot of content that lives on a lot of different platforms,” Rush said. We do a lot of custom research: how many saw things, how many people bought something because they saw something. We do a lot of test and learn. It would be great if there were one basic tool around reach, or TV/online/mobile – I’ll put social aside, it’s such a different animal – something that would translate the connections on various devices more simply. There are just so many tools to constantly choose from. There’s been a blossoming of things to buy, but a lot of them don’t drive a lot of value.”

Mark Kaline, global director for media, licensing and consumer services for packaged goods marketer Kimberly-Clark, echoed Rush’s sentiment about planners practically drowning in research: “We have data overload. We’re trying to see how these multi-media platforms contribute to each other. It’s a zero sum game, budget-wise. We need tools for planning, tools for the backend, a method or group of methods that are related to each other so we can define the context. It’s even more difficult on the international front.”

It’s not only metrics: The limits of analytics and data, even as the tools paradoxically provide more depth and insight, is sometimes an easy issue to focus on. But data can’t mount all the hurdles in the way of striking more seamless cross platform deals, said John Muszynski, SMGX’s chief investment officer.

“As we keep looking for a better measurement, we might be losing sight of the consumer experience with the advertiser,” Muszynski said. “That’s the most important piece and it has changed dramatically. The messaging we’ve used in the past doesn’t work, at least not automatically anymore. You have to look at how this is being funded. Proving the ROI, being able to shift dollars from one budget to another is an effort that continues every year.”

Picking up the content angle, Kimberly-Clark’s Kaline noted, “Content is the driver or great receptivity. As someone said at a recent conference, ‘Lousy TV content doesn’t get any better when it’s put on a two inch screen.’”

By David Kaplan

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February 15, 2012 – 3:56 pm

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