Bringing data AND research to the big screen

15 Mar 2011  |  Chris Worrell 
Chris Worrell

Chris Worrell, European research manager at Specific Media, looks at the value of digital data and the importance of traditional media research - as the two worlds of digital and TV collide with the rise of online video...

Those who know me, know that I always like to make use of a quote - largely because nine times out of ten somebody has already made my point but in a far more succinct manner and with much greater sway. As is the case when David Ogilvy proclaimed that "advertising people who ignore research are as dangerous as generals who ignore decodes of enemy signals".

By and large, the world of advertising embraces wholeheartedly the role of and indeed importance of, research. In particular the so called 'traditional media', with media owners and advertisers alike constantly engaging in research to probe, to understand, to learn, to inform - be it comprehending how consumers behave or gauging the success of a particular piece of creative.

The arrival of the new kid on the block, digital, has blown the traditional bastions of research away. Well, in a manner of speaking. For the ability of the world wide web to target consumers precisely, based on any combination of thousands of real time and actual behaviours and to be accountable for the performance of campaigns to the most finite degree rather makes a mockery of a 6,000 panel being the arbiter of where global brand giants decide to spend millions of their advertising pounds.

Through the work of scholarly greats such as Gerald Zaltman we know that the huge majority of consumer decision making is driven by the sub conscious. But the vast amount of consumer driven data that the internet produces gives us a window into this sub conscious. Every day, consumers across the world are leaving digital footprints behind them that, when user patterns are examined closely and interpreted carefully, allow us a fascinating view of the way that they have behaved, and unlock clues as to how they will do so in the future.

As people who work in an industry that places the consumer at the heart of everything we do, we are more empowered than ever. However, digital, for all the rich tapestry of insights it produces, is not perfect. Being the most measurable of all the advertising channels is an asset but also a hindrance. It can be summed up in one word - click. Now is not the time for a discussion around the merits of the click. In reality, there should never be a discussion around the merits of a click, for there are so few of them.

However, discussion around research and data most certainly is pertinent - and probably never more so as the worlds of traditional and new media, if we can call them that, prepare to converge in such a spectacularly exciting fashion.

The explosion of video content online is about to present a fascinating, mainstream opportunity for advertisers. Research and data are at the heart of this opportunity.

Video content on the digital stage takes the very best of the traditional media world's Goliath, TV, and the very best of its young challenger, the internet, and combines them to present an unimaginable blend for advertisers. For now that rich tapestry of insights that underpins advertising on the internet can be fused with the sensory allure of brand led visual advertising that was once the domain of the big screen in the corner of the living room.

So why are research and data at the heart of this opportunity?

The quality of data produced by the internet, the sheer depth of data produced by the internet and the applicability of this data to brand-driven communication presents a whole new opportunity to advertisers, a new dimension to the way a campaign is constructed. Harnessing, interpreting and applying this data efficiently, effectively and intelligently will underpin the success of video advertising online.

With new technology and new opportunities, comes the need for new understanding - video advertising online isn't just throwing a few million impressions at the thirty second spot that was run during Corrie. Video content online is a step change in the way people consume content and the who, why, how and what requires a deep level of understanding.

Digital can and must learn from traditional. TV advertising has never been held to account by such measures as click through or dwell time or hover. As the excellent Bain report tells us, this is not the language brand marketers speak. They want to know about recall, consideration, purchase intent. The preoccupation with clicks must be left behind - and digital must invest in research to prove the compelling power of the internet, using measures that align the old and the new.

Research and data won't make or break the online video advertising proposition. The explosive growths in both volume and quality of content have ensured its place at the top table. But research and data will intermingle and fuse to ensure a utopian advertising opportunity. Intelligent application of data to create compelling, efficient campaigns and the use of research to inform, evaluate and shape campaigns will make the difference between the average and the exceptional.

Here at Specific Media we process terabytes of data every day - and it is the harnessing of this data, turning it into informative, useful and actionable insights, that creates a powerful proposition for advertisers. But data is not on its own - for research, understanding and learning are also at the heart of the Specific Media offering. Data and research combined - a powerful proposition.

Click here to visit the Specific Media website, and follow Specific Media on twitter here.

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