Paul had an interesting experience last week. Here he is in this guest post with a little perspective from “across the pond.”
I was fortunate to attend ESOMAR 2010 in Berlin last week – an international conference of leading media researchers and thinkers. It is quite a gathering, with a series of 25 minute presentations from some of the best minds in media research. Tony Jarvis and his group put on a great conference.
I was there with Arbitron’s Dr. Ed Cohen to present an abridged version of our “Goin’ Mobile” study. It’s not an easy task to cut a 60 minute video presentation in half, but we did it, and the delegates truly enjoyed watching Americans text while driving. The mobile experience is universal – many of these international attendees saw themselves on the screen as our respondents shared feelings of stress caused by being so accessible to their bosses.
Topics at ESOMAR ranged from the challenge of measuring out-of-home ratings in Madrid to case studies on the multi-platform usage among Britons during the World Cup. Every aspect of media research was covered, and the discussions during breaks were lively and thought-provoking.
I left Berlin with two main observations (along with a taste for German draft beer):
1. Our challenges aren’t unique. It seems like most countries are wrestling with many of the same issues as we are in the States. Lots of discussion about the diary vs. electronic measurement, the decline of the print business, the value of social media as an advertising platform, and privacy concerns. If you didn’t know better you would have thought you were at the NAB/RAB Radio Show.
2. We’re all chasing the Holy Grail. It sure wasn’t designed this way, but it seemed that virtually every presentation focused on two topics – the explosion of digital use and the frustration of trying to figure out how to measure it in context with other media. In session after session, we learned about different ways of testing models that can look at the total use of a brand – online, on-air, via mobile, etc. But to my observation, we’re not close.
This last point is critical, because if the media industry (not just radio – we’re all suffering here) cannot come up with an aggregated measurement system that accounts for all of the touch points, I fear that efforts to monetize digital delivery systems today and in the future will fall short. And because media companies are fixated on monetization, what will happen to online streaming and mobile apps if this isn’t accomplished?
As I was saying wiedersehen to Berlin, an American client of ours received their monthly PPM report. Overall in Adults 25-54, the station was in the mid-3s, but online streaming, morning drive and middays added 1.0 share. For obvious legal reasons (that need to be addressed), this impressive digital showing appears separate from the terrestrial shares. Added together, the station would have jumped in rank from 10th to 4th. But because we simply don’t have an industry standard, these streaming shares will probably be sold separately (if at all) at extremely low prices.
And to complicate matters, this station has a very successful iPhone app where they stream the station as well, but don’t have any idea what percentage of their streaming is coming online or through their app. So again, we don’t have the appropriate data to effectively monetize their “success.”
I’m not a researcher in the purest sense – I’m on the sales and marketing side – so maybe we’ll hear from some of you who have some concrete ideas. But technology is on the fast-track, and our metrics are in the Stone Age.
We’ve got electronic measurement of radio listening (at least in the larger markets), and streaming data. We can tell how many fans on Facebook we’ve amassed, and we’ve got a hard count on the number of members in our email databases. We know how many downloads our mobile apps have garnered, and we can tell how often our listeners visit various features within the app.
But how does all of this fit together in an integrated way that layers all of this brand usage into a coherent, marketable metric that advertisers value?
This was the big topic in the hallways at ESOMAR. But we need to do more than just talk.
Until the media industry achieves this whole enchilada of integrated measurement, we’ll be stuck in the old spots and CPM paradigm.