The back-and-forth with cookies is the umpteenth distraction from a problem that has been on the table for decades: why is much of the industry still focused on media-by-media measurement when all that matters is the measurement of those media in combination with each other?
The to-and-fro we have been experiencing for several years now with cookies, starting with the publication of RGPD and its consequences (cookie blocking in Firefox, Safari, "Do not track" in Apps on iOS, death of cookies in Google, etc.) are the umpteenth distraction for a problem that has been on the table for decades. It is an absurdly simple question to ask: **Why is so much of the industry still focused on media-by-media measurement when all that matters is the measurement of those media combined together?
Let's backtrack. Media measurement is directly linked to advertising, because of the need to properly price advertising space. The press was the first medium to be measured with a certain method. Somewhat later, with the golden age of Madison Avenue, came that of television, which quickly became a medium with an incredible economic value.
Even then the situation was not ideal. But, well, there were only two media, so it was acceptable for each medium to have a dedicated measurement for them. Some of you may be thinking, what about radio? Indeed, we don't talk about radio. But let's leave that for another day. Measuring print and TV was a good life, each medium easily justified its value. Media buying was sophisticated but affordable. And the advertiser had sufficient data on the coverage of their campaigns. **It really was the 'good old days'.
Then the internet came along. Without detailing the thousand and one twists and turns that measuring "the medium" in digital has taken and will take, as it would make for a very long and rather boring article, I'll stick with one idea: **Digital did not change anything in terms of measurement. Digital aggravated the situation, because although 'third party' measurements appeared, such as the Nielsen Online and Comscore panels, what happened was that the market was flooded with measurements carried out by the ad server itself, with internal tools.
Eventually, it became normalised that each platform (Google, Facebook, Tik Tok, Twitch, Netflix) produces its own data, which is designed to demonstrate its superiority over the rest. This leads to serious trust issues (some examples here, here, and here). Dare one say that all those media that insist on forcing their advertisers to believe their 'proprietary measurement' data are actually undermining trust in that data... even when the measurement is well done!
And on a technical level, the situation has led to a proliferation of measurement technologies, disconnected from each other.
In any case, and to return to the subject at hand, we can see that in Digital the same thing is happening again: measurements are always for a single medium.
Let's point out the elephant in the room: No advertiser should care about their campaign data in a single medium. And watch out, because the media shouldn't be interested in working with that mentality either.
The reality of media consumption has progressively become a "totum revolutum". You, me and anyone else, we consume whatever we want, without giving any importance to where, how and when we consume. Linear TV, OTTs, Radio, Digital, Cinema, Social Media... For the advertiser this means that any campaign will have to use a combination of media to reach a sufficient number of times a sufficient amount of the target. And not one more, as Mark Pritchard emphasised not long ago.
If what advertisers need is a mix of media to achieve that reach and frequency, the last thing they need is single-media campaign measurement, whether it's TV panel, or digital measurement from media data, or any other mechanism, whatever it is, that refers only to a single medium. No advertiser should be satisfied with data whose mission is to put one medium above all others.
For their part, the media make a fundamental strategic error in trying to force advertisers to use their 'exclusive' measurement. We have seen it every time a new medium or channel has emerged in the last 30 years.
The key is being able to give data from one medium in the context of all the others. It's not about spotting the goodness of TV versus connected or vice versa, the key is to measure how they contribute and amalgamate with each other. And let's not talk about the seven-headed hydra of data fusion models that usually focus on audience and ignore campaigns... when campaigns are, in fact, the real object of advertisers' sleepless nights.
The media should be thinking about how to facilitate measurement that is as unified as possible, so that the advertiser can understand everyone's contribution... and achieve its frequency targets and coverage for its entire target.
And of course. I dare to write this because FLUZO has solved that unified measurement of campaigns that puts each medium in context with the others. As I said at the beginning... easy to formulate, difficult to solve?
Diego Semprún de Castellane is Chief Operations Officer of FLUZO and has been dedicated to the world of media measurement for more than fifteen years, with a special focus on Digital measurement.