The Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) recently hosted AUDIENCExSCIENCE, their 13th annual audience measurement conference. This year’s theme, Addressing Critical Measurement Issues, was especially timely. With the recent implementation of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe and advertising practices being discussed on the floor of the U.S. Congress, marketers are facing a quickly changing marketplace. During the event, executives from Nielsen and other industry leaders came together to discuss the way forward.
In front of an audience of TV veterans and digital newcomers, Megan Clarken, President of our Watch business, spoke about the convergence of industries in a fireside chat with Scott McDonald, President and CEO, ARF. With great content available across numerous platforms, consumers are viewing over 82 hours of video a week. “Measurement now, more than ever, is a team sport,” said Megan. As we extend our coverage through census-based measurement, she emphasized that support from the industry at large is necessary.
Over the past few years, several digital first players and retailers have created their own closed measurement systems, or walled gardens, but Megan noted that this has caused them to miss out on available ad dollars. With pressure from advertisers and agencies, many are opening the gates. “If you want to be seen as being an equal player in this field, you must be measured in a consistent way,” Megan said.
The industry is eager to measure audiences’ attention and emotion. Megan explained that all of that starts with capturing audience reach and frequency by age and gender. Without a base knowledge of who makes up your audience, you can’t move to the next level. But from there, she noted, you can trace return-on-investment back to media and beyond.
Megan cautioned, however, that this requires quality data, which comes at a premium. Without good inputs, marketers can end up with misleading results. For Megan, an apt metaphor is saving a few dollars by selecting cheap, low quality sushi over more expensive, higher quality sushi: “You can go do that, but at the end of the day, you might go a little green.”
Nielsen understands its role in making high quality data available to its clients. This takes knowing the unique needs across the 48 different markets that Nielsen manages. Megan emphasized that, “Most important to bringing confidence to advertisers is ensuring that they know, with third-party, independent, high-quality data, that they got what they paid for.”
After Megan’s presentation, the themes she highlighted remained top of mind and flowed through on- and off-stage conversations during the entire event.