Measuring the Unmeasured at the ARF

The ARF always offers events that are a must attend for researchers. This year’s audience measurement conference was no exception. Just like with everything else in the media landscape today, research is undergoing challenges that require it to transform the way it does business.

There is now more to measure ... and more that is unmeasured. There are more platforms, more content options, many more large and small competitors for consumer attention and affection and more data to mine for insights. Researchers now wear many more hats- storytellers, neuroscience aware, big data mavens, thought leaders and analytics experts. We now need a working knowledge of ACR, STB data, cross platform relationships, addressable opportunities and privacy pitfalls. The list sometimes appears endless. But it also makes our jobs very relevant and pivotal to the well-being of a company.

The future is screens, according to Laura Desmond CEO, Starcom MV. “Screens will dominate our environment. There are screens at airports, hotel lobbies, on refrigerators and washing machines. There are touch screens and screens that don't move.” She expects that consumer behaviors will changes with the proliferation of all these screens and cited that 50% of Twitter users read tweets as they watch TV. But the way we measure all those screens is still evolving.

Measurement Solutions
ESPNs Artie Bulgrin offered insights into a Multi Platform measurement solution with an update on Project Blueprint. Project Blueprint is a cross platform solution that uses both single-source and data integration in a hybrid methodology. It combines Arbitron TV and radio data with comScore TV STB, PC and mobile data, along with a “Calibration Panel” recruited from the Arbitron PPM panel.  These are integrated in a “duplication engine” that estimates combinations of usage across five platforms. Partner on the project, comScore CEO Gian Fulgoni called it the "best of panels combined with the availability of big data into elegantly integrated system….that can operate at scale."

Mark Loughney of ABC gives an overview of all three of the ABC research panels at the ARF in this video including DVR playback viewing beyond 7 days and the results of two cross platform studies.

Advancements, Opportunities, Pitfalls and Privacy
Dave Morgan, CEO Simulmedia hosted a panel on how big data can move research forward. It is almost a moving target since there are "more big data sources from new devices everyday" according to Millward Brown’s Bill Pink. And there is a talent gap in how to apply insights to data. Researchers need to be discerning in what the data actually says compared to what the data appears to say. Once regarded as a panacea to all research efforts, it seems that Big Data actually spurs the need for more small data initiatives. "We are doing more custom research than ever before. Big data escalates new questions" says Pink.  Explaining the value of Big Data to the C-level is sometimes difficult but Kellogg’s Aaron Fetters has a solution: He finds that using “The Moneyball example” is an effective way to introduce the value of Big Data to the CEO.

Turner’s Jon Marks says that it is a Big Data world where these datasets have a huge role to play when used properly. He talks about Turner’s Athena Project which defines audience target segments by the programs they watch and Turner’s partnerships in cross platform in this video:


He also believes that we are in the golden age of market research where the opportunities for the next generation are almost limitless because the questions keep coming and solutions keep changing. There is a need for great analytical minds to help companies navigate the new media frontier.

But there are pitfalls, especially when we don’t look at the full ecosystem when analyzing data. Christian Kugel of AOL advised that we more fully understand consumer behavior to get the best insights from the data. "What does mobile mean? 60% of mobile moment usage is at home. We need to reframe each strategic opportunity based on what we see the usage is via the data." Mary Ellen Gorden from Flurry talked about how the changing technology can impact behavioral results from the data. "There are lots of apps where cookies don't apply. " So culling data based on cookies may skew your results.

And what about privacy? Aside from the usual response that privacy is important, there are some who are taking a more pragmatic view. Some say that it is possible to give consumers choice where they willingly agree to give up some personal information voluntarily so they receive more targeted and therefore relevant ads.

After two intensive days of research panels, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the range of measurement solutions that are possible using Big Data in combination with custom research. Will there be one major solution that advances into a cross platform and / or addressable currency? These senior executives weigh in on solutions in this video:

I say, stay tuned - this is only the beginning.

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