Making sense in a land of confusion

All data is not equal and to make sound decisions, quality and trust in the data is key

PAMCo’s Simon Redican explores the key findings from our recent launch of Making Sense: The Commercial Media Landscape.

The Actor Steve McQueen could have been speaking for many of us when he said "anything that doesn’t make sense I don’t want to give too much of my brain to”. As we survey the limitless possibilities on offer to advertisers in 2023 it can feel that making sense and making sensible investment decisions is too taxing for the human brain alone given the complexity and sheer scale of the commercial opportunities.

Thankfully the IPA have been helping the industry to make sense of the commercial landscape with insights from their groundbreaking TouchPoints study. TouchPoints brings together audience data from across industry sectors to give users an overview of media consumption to guide their investment decisions.

Simon Redican, CEO PAMCo

We recently saw the launch of the fifth annual Making Sense publication, which the IPA’s Simon Frazier kicked things off with a lively canter through the numbers in the report. Sporting a natty scarf which peak Roger Moore would have been proud of, his broad themes were that similarities in media consumption between demographics occasioned by the pandemic were now dissipating with a return to real differences in consumption. A fragmented landscape means advertisers need to look to mix different sectors to deliver the highest levels of reach. Online video has been the fastest-growing channel across the last 5 years but throughout, speakers were clear that reach alone doesn’t equal effectiveness. To no one’s surprise digital now accounts for 51% of consumption vs 49% for non-digital. Finally, smartphone usage accounts for 32% share of consumption time (and 54% for 16-34’s).

Refreshingly the panel of Lauren Greenhough of Wavemaker, Simon Crunden of Republic of Media, and Maddy Sim of Carat all ply their trade outside of London. Like the UK economy, our industry has a very London-centric view of the world and so credit to the IPA for showcasing the quality of industry thinking outside of the South East.

Key takeouts were how rich the users find the TouchPoints dataset. Of note in our age of complexity was that they viewed reach and time spent as the basic building blocks on which to construct their media plans, helping them identify where best to reach target consumers. It was argued that all data is not equal and that to make sound decisions, quality and trust in the data is key. Music to the ears of the CEO of a Joint Industry Currency.

I was intrigued to know how agencies married audience insights with the outcome of campaigns, isolating the contribution and relative cost-effectiveness of each channel. It seems Henry Ford’s dictum “half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, the trouble is I don’t know which half” is as true in 2023 as it was in the early twentieth century. Despite the promise of the digital revolution that we could effortlessly allocate value to every penny of media spend, the industry is as far away from that nirvana as ever.

Give thanks then, that we have initiatives like TouchPoints and the Joint Industry Currencies that feed into it to help us make sense of our complex media landscape with robust, transparent data.


The full 2023 Making Sense: The Commercial Media Landscape (Fifth edition) report and the IPA TouchPoints data is available for free for IPA TouchPoints subscribers, while an eight-page Executive Summary is free for everyone to download.


Simon Redican is CEO of PAMCo Ltd, the joint industry currency for UK publishers. His career began at agencies including Carat and Starcom Mediavest where he was Head of Planning. He worked in commercial roles at Classic FM and Times Media before becoming MD of the Radio Advertising Bureau. He has led the transition of NRS to PAMCo.

Last updated 01 May 2024