The tone of last week's Cross-Platform Video Measurement Summit in NYC, was set upfront, as first speaker Patti Wakeling, Unilever's Global Media Insights Director, plainly stated that a "measurement crisis" is upon the research industry. Noting the wide diversity of devices that now deliver video, and rapidly changing consumer behaviors, Ms. Wakeling concluded that "consumers are way ahead of the research community."
These simple truths are no doubt what packed 300+ attendees into the Time Life Auditorium for an afternoon of discussion about how confusing the video landscape has become for traditional TV advertising and what the ecosystem - advertisers, agencies, content providers and measurement service providers - should be doing to address the situation.
In the not so old days, the planning, verifying and calculating of a TV ad campaign's ROI was a relatively straightforward exercise. Nielsen data and gross ratings points ("GRPs") provided the "currency" that were used to enable billions of dollars of ad spending. Though imperfect, the system was agreed upon and its flaws were understood.
But the rise of online and mobile video, along with all the devices which now deliver full-length TV programs and other premium content, has scrambled the measurement picture. As things stand today there's no universally accepted way of measuring viewership across multiple platforms. As a result, advertisers that cohesively seek to reach viewers wherever they consume content, is impossible. And that in turn means that ad spending - which is still the most critical form of monetization for premium content providers - cannot flow efficiently.
Subsequent panels and speakers offered a variety of solutions. One, presented by CIMM (the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement) dubbed "TAXI," short for Trackable Asset Cross-Platform Identification, would create a UPC-like code for all content, traceable to any device on which content is viewed. comScore and Arbitron shared their respective solutions, as did MediaVest. And ESPN presented its views on how best to measure cross screens and whether a unified GRP is necessary. Throughout all the sessions, speakers repeatedly urged industry collaboration as a necessity.
Listening to the speakers, the good news here is that industry executives recognize that a huge and growing cross-platform research problem exists and a multitude of solutions are being developed to solve it. The bad news is that these are extremely complicated issues and that no perfect approach is likely to emerge as a standard any time soon. That's why numerous speakers suggested that taking smaller steps is the better way to go, and that if the industry waits for perfection it will never get there.
Underscoring how omnipresent the research challenges have become, several speakers agreed that "research is everyone's business now" and the sooner the stakeholders can agree on steps forward, the sooner cross platform ad spending deals will ramp up.
The Cross-Platform Video Measurement Summit was organized by the ANA, the Four A's, CIMM and ARF.