The need for accountable media data

The IPA and ISBA have launched a 'A Matter of Fact', which is a collective call to action for more accountable media data. Richard Marks, Owner of Research The Media, outlines why it is vital that the industry takes action.

Advertisers invested £21bn in UK media advertising in 2016.

Effective advertising is an essential driver of business growth. Building brands in the long-term whilst also creating short-term effects is essential to the health of companies. Continuing prosperity is dependent on advertisers making decisions based on open and accountable media audience data as the bedrock for measuring advertising effectiveness.

Media data needs to deliver a trusted assessment of the size and composition of a campaign’s audience. This is vital to calculate a campaign’s return on investment, whether the objective is driving sales, building brand awareness or any other goals. The need for consistent measurement of media exposure across channels can’t be underestimated; advertising campaigns benefit from the multiplier effect, which comes from using a variety of media channels.

The latest IPA Effectiveness Awards show that the average number of media channels used in a successful ad campaign is now 14 and continues to grow each year.

Accountability in all walks of life is underpinned by trust and our industry needs credible media audience data. Yet there is a growing level of mistrust, particularly in the provision of online audience data. This is undermining the acceptability of the data that is used to justify both the effectiveness of the UK’s investment in advertising and as the basis for transactions between buyers and sellers of media campaigns.

There has been a notable erosion of trust in media data used by online businesses due to a series of avoidable data issues. Doubts about online audience measurement are leading to a crisis of faith. WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell reports that clients are ‘wary and suspicious’ of online measures.1

Meanwhile Marc Pritchard, P&G’s Chief Brand Officer, delivered a widely reported keynote speech in January 2017:

 “I confess that P&G believed the myth that we could be a first mover on all of the latest shiny objects, despite the lack of standards and measurements and verification.

We accepted multiple viewability metrics, publisher self reporting with no verification, outdated agency contracts, and fraud threats – with the somewhat delusional thought that digital is different and that we were getting ahead of the digital curve. We’ve come to our senses.”2

Pritchard also confirmed that by the end of 2017 P&G will be committed to using only data that has been audited by an independent third party.

Online companies are suffering damage to their reputations and run the risk of losing the trust of advertisers in their ability to accurately report their contribution to effective marketing campaigns. Openness and comparability in the metrics used to measure consumer exposure is vital, particularly if these online companies are to successfully move beyond revenue from last-click calls to action and attract lucrative brand-building advertising.

JICs have provided the advertising industry with objective inputs into the calculation of marketing effectiveness for many years; their metrics are derived from independent data-collection methodologies. The JICs are increasingly moving to hybrid measurement systems that combine proven, people-based research techniques with connected online data. It is vital that the industry is reassured about the quality and veracity of any proprietary data that is absorbed into these industry-owned currencies.

This is an extract from 'A Matter of Fact – The need for accountable media audience data and how to get it', which was launched on Thursday 1st June 2017 at a cross-industry event. Find out more about the report here and download the report (free) here.

Last updated 21 January 2022