Research is the Industry’s One-Armed Paper Hanger

I have written many articles about changes in our industry. We talk about how change is impacting the core mechanics of how we do our jobs, upending our long cherished metrics and data sets and setting even the most complacent executive into shudders.  But in truth, there are some in our industry who believe we are in a comparative lull.

At the recent ARF Re:Think, Keith Weed, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Unilever quoted industry notable Shelly Palmer who said, “Change will never be as slow as it is today.” That might be true, but still to many of us, the rate of change today is unprecedented and at once uncomfortable, vexing, fascinating and exhilarating.

A big part of this change is due to the advancements and access-ability of Big Data which is the bailiwick of Research and Analytics Departments. But the data is coming fast, furious and silo’d. So how does Research keep up? I asked a range of researchers at the ARF about what their priority was in the next six months here are the videos and here their stories:

Charlene Weisler asked notable industry executives what their top priority will be in the next six months:

Charlene Weisler talked to a range of industry experts who outlined their current major projects:

Cross Platform
Many across the media spectrum – from suppliers to agencies to organizations to networks - cited cross platform measurement as a top priority. CIMM CEO Jane Clarke said, “What CIMM is going to focus on is what we have been focusing on over the past few years - finalizing our cross platform measurement service with comScore called Project Blueprint. It is measuring unduplicated reach across television, radio, smartphones, tablets and computers across three media, video, audio and text.” Joan Fitzgerald, SVP Television and Cross-Media Services comScore, concurred, “We are continuing to concentrate on making cross media measurement a reality in the marketplace today.”

Tom Xenos, Vice President, Research, MediaVest said, “One of the biggest things coming up is to better understand cross media measurement - How to get the data, how to understand duplication, how to know what is driving what medium to what platform and having it all come together.” Tom Ziangas, SVP Research for AMC Networks added that he is committed to “coordinating our Big Data efforts to report and understand Video Cross-platform viewing behaviors.”

But the media world is not solely focused on cross platform. For Leslie Wood, Nielsen, it is “Targeting. Everything we learned about targeting came from mass media where if you got it wrong you still reached a lot of people. But now that we can precision target, it really matters. What can we look at in our data that gives you the insights you need to make good decisions.”

Mobile is the 600 pound gorilla in the measurement room.  According to Josh Chasin, CRO comScore, “What we are going to be working on is holistic measurement solutions that bring TV and digital measurement together and I think it will be around the nexus of mobile measurement.” Graeme Hutton is focused on mobile and its intrinsic synergies with television. He said, “If I had to do one thing over the next six months it would be to look at the interaction between television and mobile. Mobile and TV are known to work strongly together. But I want to know why. Understanding the ‘why’ is very important. The principal way to do that is through neuroscience.”

Data Integration Platforms
Harnessing Big Data is a big priority for many. For example, Bruce Goerlich, CRO Rentrak, is concentrating on data integration. He said, “We are just about to release the Rentrak Analytic Platform which will have respondent level data in it. It will be 500,000 homes in the beginning going up to 2 million. There will be many types of analyses that you can do on this huge data set providing stability, granularity and insights.”

For Mike Bloxham, SVP Magid, the priority is “the over the top and SVOD marketplace which has the capacity to be very disruptive and has ramifications across the business. If we see a continuation of what we have seen in the past 18 months in terms of viewing figures on broadcast and cable, advertisers are starting to think about how that will impact the way in which they use TV to reach mass audience.” 

Bringing the Next Generation Up to Speed
Change impacts not only those of us in the industry but also those who one day may join the industry. CRE facilitator and NYU Professor Richard Zackon is currently focusing on how to keep his summer audience measurement class at NYU up to date. He explains, “Every year about this time I begin to prepare for my class and every year I have to throw away about 5 or 10% of the material because it is out dated. This year I am going to have to throw out about 30% of my material. I have a lot of catch up work in basically every fundamental topic.”

Can we as a group of researchers manage to keep pace? I am hopeful. There are enough of us taking on a range of different challenges to assure that there will be some progress.

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