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  • Writer's pictureNick Cicero

The constants of yesterday are the variables of today: Navigating the Future of Media Measurement

What are the leaders in media measurement thinking about? The Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement (CIMM) annual summit has perennially been an industry compass as far as where measurement is heading and this year and how we react to the massive shifts in consumer behavior around content consumption. I spent two days this week at the CIMM annual summit with folks from agencies, media companies, TV manufacturers and measurement companies and wanted to share a bit of my takeaways.

1. Traditional TV is on borrowed time:
Those large cable bundles with hundreds of traditional linear TV channels? We’ve been saying it for a few years but death is accelerating and media buyers and sellers need to recognize the need to adjust their strategies. Brian Wieser, CFA assertion left no room for doubt: the traditional Pay TV model is in decline. Streaming, once an alternative, is now the heir apparent with around 30% of TV ad spend switching to TV, and in a few years we may see only 1/3 of US homes even paying for cable. But with its rise, the challenge of maintaining profitability surfaces. The echoes of the music industry's struggles in the wake of digital disruption are hard to ignore. While sports is often positioned as linear broadcasting's last hope, its intersection with streaming poses intriguing questions. As sports consumption trends towards an 'à la carte' model, will the casual viewer be left behind? For brands and advertisers, this shift demands a strategic overhaul.

2. TV Reach: Myth vs. Reality:
The fragmented media ecosystem has put traditional TV's reach under the microscope. The surge of social video platforms, often without the traditional benchmarks of content quality, challenges old norms. It brings to light the need for a more holistic approach to video buying. Kelly Abcarian presented NBCUniversal and MarketCast’s research that highlights what common sense should already tell us - reach doesn’t automatically equal ad resonance - it’s about quality, context, resonance and experience.

3. The Media Industry Needs to Embrace a Multi-Currency world that is constantly evolving: A number of panelists spoke about combining multiple analytics vendors and measurement partners - a trend that likely won’t go away. The marketers of tomorrow are outcome-based marketers and this means there will never be one universally accepted standard for everything in media. Once all TV goes IP in a few years all content will be 100% digitally delivered and 100% measurable quantitatively, but this means we have to bring context to our measurement now. The new norm will be combining Attention metrics, emotional metrics, panels with real-time streaming data coming from the app directly. The Weather Channel's pivot from industry mainstays like Nielsen to newer platforms like VideoAmp or Paramount’s announcement of iSpot as a currency partner isn't just a switch; it's indicative of a broader industry sentiment. The overarching demand? Greater transparency. Especially when giants like Google cast long shadows over metrics and analytics.

Deepak Jose, Global Head of One Demand Data & Analytics Solutions at Mars, aptly noted, “We used to build data and measurement systems to last and scale; now, we need to build systems to adapt and scale.”

He brings up a great point - as an industry we’ll never evolve if we’re rebuilding the media measurement system every 10 years.

4. Privacy and Data: Striking the Balance: In the evolving media landscape, there's a growing recognition that measurement and privacy can co-exist, with improved privacy designs offering better data access without infringing on individual rights. Modern consumers value transparency and trust, often not differentiating between various online sign-ups, such as distinguishing between a CNN newsletter and an HBO Max subscription. As technology enhances privacy, it's crucial that these measures also provide user-centric experiences.

As Qonsent founder Jesse Redniss said: “Privacy by design does not translate to human by design. Privacy-enhancing tech needs to deliver privacy-enhancing experiences in the way the average consumer understands.”

The industry grapples with the complexities of unifying consent across devices and the challenge of identifying the true first party in data collection. Moving forward, instead of short-term fixes like hashed emails, there's a pressing need for genuine privacy solutions that ensure authentic data collection while maintaining user trust.

Finally, a looming question remains: in the data-driven era, who truly 'owns' consumer data? Is it the device manufacturer, the content publisher, the advertiser, or the consumer affiliated with a specific brand? There is about to be a showdown for who “owns” the consumer data – and perhaps even thinking about it that way is the problem.

5. We need to have more vocal advocates for Content Engagement Analytics: 99% of the discussions at CIMM were about changing the paradigm of measuring ADS. Now I know that’s important but I was pleasantly surprised to see a session led by two brilliant women - Lisa Heimann , EVP, Corporate Research & Strategy and NBCU and Colleen Fahey Rush , EVP & Chief Research Officer, Paramount - about the importance and value of quality content engagement measurement.

This is an area near and dear to my heart, as my startup Delmondo (and later Conviva Viewer and Social Insights) focused on this facet of measurement.

I’ll never forget when I was meeting with a VC pitching Delmondo after we had just closed a big deal with Viacom ironically and they asked what made us different from other measurement vendors.

“Everyone focuses on measuring the ads, we focus on measuring the engagement, the audience and the content people come to the platform to see…”

The problem is content engagement in a streaming app (or social platform) isn’t measured with iSpot or Videoamp or Nielsen. I would have loved to see some folks from Adobe or Mixpanel or Google there advocating for features like audience segmentation, content pathing, cohort analysis and the like.

Final Thoughts - The constants of yesterday are the variables of today.

Hats off to Jon Watts and Tameka Kee for hosting an amazing two-day event, the energy was electric and I’m excited to see where all the working groups take their respective projects in the coming years. At the end of the day the media ecosystem is in flux. The constants of yesterday are the variables of today. As industry professionals, our ability to adapt, innovate, and remain consumer-centric will shape the media landscape of tomorrow.

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