Understanding the building blocks of media research data

Media research stands at the heart of our industry and impacts all aspects of how we plan, buy and sell media in order to best meet our clients’ objectives.

Do you know your CPM from your CPT? Do you understand Boolean logic? IPA Research Director Belinda Beeftink explains why everyone working in the media industry should have a basic knowledge of the building blocks of media research data; how to use it, how to challenge it and how to gain better insights from it.

We all know that the pandemic has had a profound effect on talent and that it is becoming harder and harder to retain the talent we have. Yet we do not invest in training nearly enough. We assume that people can learn on the job from colleagues and yet that less formal “word of mouth” way of learning relies on the old ways of doing things which are no longer appropriate or as effective.

Working habits have changed and we are increasingly working from home as much as we are working in an office with our teams meaning there is less opportunity to learn through osmosis. This has a massive impact on the level of ‘on the job’ training new people get. How do you learn directly from your team when you are not with your team?

When we rely heavily on people to proactively pass on their knowledge it can be sketchy and limited. We all have good intentions but increasingly people are time-poor meaning they are simply unable to invest sufficient time in passing on knowledge to juniors. Quite often, although few would care to admit it, their own knowledge may be limited or out of date.

The IPA, in partnership with the training specialists at LIME, have developed the Media Research Essentials Certificate which covers the basics of media research including fundamental skills, understanding the difference between qualitative and quantitative research, how to evaluate data, understanding industry audience measurement and how to use media research to inform media planning.

The course is written by industry experts and delivered in easily accessible online modules utilising the best video and text training tools.

Media research stands at the heart of our industry and impacts all aspects of how we plan, buy and sell media in order to best meet our clients’ objectives. A basic understanding of the building blocks of media research, what it can do and what it cannot do is essential knowledge for any practitioner.

The world of media research is changing rapidly as new currencies are introduced and others grow far beyond their initial remit to accommodate an ever evolving media landscape. Agencies are also increasingly looking for external sources of data to feed into proprietary planning and evaluation tools and there has been an explosion of these third party offerings, not all being as reputable as we’d like. I have seen firsthand, how some very senior people in our industry only have the barest knowledge of media research basics, either they were never taught, or they have forgotten or they have not kept up to date. They are certainly not best placed to teach new people coming into our industry about the complexities of Route or how BARB data is collected let alone the difference between cluster and factor analysis or how to validate 20 million records of SDK data.

The Media Research Essentials Certificate has been developed to suit the way in which people work today. It is available online and can be studied in modules over time. There is a multiple choice exam at the end which helps to consolidate the knowledge achieved. As a mark of that achievement the course delivers 2 MIPA stars and gets participants on the way to becoming a full MIPA.

If you have new joiners or anyone moving from one discipline to another then consider signing them up for the Media Research Essentials Certificate, the details can be found here. Of course, if your own skills are rusty then you are welcome to take the course as well. It is never too late to remind yourself just how complex yet sophisticated media research is. Having an understanding of the basic building blocks will stand anyone in our industry in very good stead.

Register for the IPA Media Research Essentials Certificate


The opinions expressed here are those of the author and were submitted in accordance with the IPA terms and conditions regarding the uploading and contribution of content to the IPA newsletters, IPA website, or other IPA media, and should not be interpreted as representing the opinion of the IPA.

Last updated 01 May 2024