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“Cross-media measurement.” It’s currently one of the hottest topics of discussion among digital advertisers and publishers. But what exactly is it, how is it evolving, and what issues and opportunities lie ahead? We talked with our Chief Revenue Officer, Manish Bhatia, to find out. Here’s what he had to say.
Comscore: Every news article you read today about media insists that the landscape is changing. What’s really the extent of this evolution?
MANISH BHATIA: This is truly the golden age of media. More and more people are consuming more and more content across more and more platforms. The earlier fear of media cannibalization has receded as research has shown that consumers of media will access media on any and all platforms they can find it on, always choosing the best available option depending upon availability of content, screens and their location.
The availability of content across devices and locations is causing a major and disruptive shift in the media marketplace. For example, as of December 2013, 56 percent of U.S. internet users accessed digital content on more than one device. Research we are doing with ESPN and CIMM on cross-platform usage indicates that of the five media we report on (TV, Radio, Online, Mobile and Tablets), consumers who have access to all five platforms spend only spend half of their total media time with TV.
With the average consumer now reachable across a variety of media platforms, marketers are increasingly looking for ways to reach their target segments more efficiently and with tailored communications that are more effective.
Publishers and media companies have more touch points with their audience and that is resulting in an increasing number of avenues for monetization.
All of these new devices and platforms have clearly impacted the way consumers interact with media and advertising. What has to happen from a measurement perspective to accurately monitor and measure this new behavior?
MANISH BHATIA: There was a big game changer that came with the internet years ago with regard to measurement. Panels have traditionally been the only source of audience information for most media. Digital creates its own data footprint as a byproduct of serving up the content and this data has been mined for detailed analysis of user behavior. While the data is at a machine level and does not indicate the demographic profile of the person consuming the content, combined with panel data, it creates a very rich and powerful information source to understand the size, composition and detailed behaviors of audiences at an individual level. At Comscore, we are leveraging all these datasets to create the most complete and comprehensive view of consumers and media consumption.
In looking at cross-platform usage, the key is to create the bridge across the different media and provide the industry with metrics that enable easy comparison of audiences across the media so they can develop more effective media content distribution and advertising strategies. The bridge captures usage of all media for the same group of people to facilitate the understanding of cross-media behaviors. The most accurate way to measure cross-platform is to track people both passively and electronically. We do that with Project Blueprint by combining panel and census data across media and leveraging a single source calibration panel to accurately quantify the usage across media. .
Clearly cross-media measurement is presenting the industry with many opportunities but also some complex challenges. What are the most important issues the industry needs to solve for in the near term when it comes to cross-media measurement?
MANISH BHATIA: The biggest issue at play is that we’re experiencing a clash of business models right now. Everyone wants cross-platform measurement but the way media is evaluated and sold is siloed. As we move to measuring across platforms, the end goal here is to be able to provide uniform metrics across all media and to facilitate the planning, buying and post-analysis process across all media.
What are the next big steps and opportunities in this area?
MANISH BHATIA: Aside from brands beginning to operationalize this data, there’s still a fair amount of education to be done among the industry to help brands and advertisers understand exactly how valuable this cross-media data is. We are sharing insights from the work we’ve done in partnership with organizations and brands such as CIMM, ESPN and NBC, among others. As device proliferation continues and time spent consuming content online increases, marketers are rolling out integrated cross-platform campaigns. Having this cross-media data available can make cross-platform buying and selling more effective.
For more insights and digital trends, download Comscore’s 2014 U.S. Digital Future in Focus report by clicking here.