The rise of the Super JICs?
Following an in-depth review with industry stakeholders, GfK's Stefan Heremans sheds light on what media currencies might look like in five years. Will chaos reign, or can a new order prevail?
Providing accurate and relevant media measurement metrics is a greater challenge than ever before. Audiences have shifted from prime-time consumption of mass media to accessing personalised content across multiple devices, 24/7.
This has created a rapidly growing data trail for measurement, but one which is siloed and not always consistent.
To provide a deeper understanding of this complex media landscape, measurement techniques are evolving, often using hybrid approaches to combine the strengths of different tools and datasets.
But it is becoming harder to create overview metrics that are both accessible and accepted by all the different media players. Without these, it will become increasingly difficult to drive the business forward.
3 possible scenarios for the future
Many would argue that we have reached a crossroads. In the future will there still be a requirement for Joint Industry Committees (JICs) to provide trusted, standardised measurement for the advertising trade?
Or will tech create a new world with scalable, cost efficient technologies which are faster, more flexible and more tightly targeted? And are these two approaches mutually exclusive or can they work together in a more integrated manner?
We decided to get views from the various stakeholders across the industry. So, in association with IAB Europe, we invited industry representatives from a wide range of companies to a round table discussion on how media measurement might look in five years’ time.
Participants included: digital platforms Google, Facebook and Oath; global ad agencies Publicis and Dentsu; media owners from broadcast TV and digital; a programmatic audience platform; a national advertising association and the German JIC for TV audience research, AGF.
It is the first time we have been able to discuss these issues with such a broad group and, from the ensuing debate, we were able to summarise three possible scenarios for the future:
1) The rise of the “Super JIC” as reinvigorated, neutral data arbiters
2) Chaos replaces order, with data being controlled by different competing entities large and small
3) Technological self-regulation of data, likely in the form of an adaptation of Blockchain technology
You can read the full discussion in our white paper.
These are big topics, so in this piece, we will focus on how the discussions have shaped our GfK thinking around the first scenario - “The rise of the super JIC” and the issues that surround it.
Welcome to the machine: will traditional currency systems be replaced by automation?
Some would argue that developments in tech will lead to massive shifts in the industry:
- traditional currency systems being replaced by automated bidding
- media planning being overtaken by the algorithm
- mass marketing, or even group targeting, being replaced with AI driven “one-to-one” marketing.
Such a world wouldn’t leave much space for JICs and what we currently measure is highly likely to change.
In five years’ time, we may well have moved on from using “reach” currencies and instead be focussing on measuring “effect” - such as campaign effect on brand or sales uplift. This will in turn have a direct impact on media planning.
Also we are already struggling to keep up with new consumer activities such as, in-app use, and search, especially voice search. These developments will only accelerate, and who knows what other applications will emerge into the mainstream in that time?
The role of the “Super JIC”
This might paint a bleak picture for the future of JICs, however there are many compelling reasons to believe they may actually flourish and grow in our future landscape. Much depends on what future metrics we, as an industry, actually want and the role we want them to play.
It’s very likely that we will exist in a more highly regulated environment in the next five years. And JICs are arguably the best placed institutions to ensure the existence of a trusted media measurement that is universally recognised and GDPR compliant.
These JICs would be different from those of today - they would be “Super JICs” that are also supported in their efforts by the global digital platform players and other key data providers.
JICs could transform from the guardians of media planning to the guardians of data quality
Despite rapid advances in tech, the industry has been dogged by issues of trust and fraud, and a high reliance on a few digital platform players with a lot of power.
Although the media landscape is constantly changing, basic requirements remain the same"
There have been calls for higher transparency and better orchestration in the data world, most notably by the P&G CMO Mark Pritchard.
In a future of data abundance, there will remain a need for smart insightful data that is robust and reliable. If we assume that media will be largely digital, most ad inventories will be sold with other data packages. It then makes sense that some of that data is standardised and can be shared as a common reference layer.
It will fall to JICs to ensure and control access to this data, meaning their role could transform from the guardians of media planning to the guardians of data and data quality. High quality data from the currencies can then be used in digital trading systems alongside traditional media planning which will help ensure cross-industry funding and support.
This shared layer of data could be a basic foundation, for instance socio-demographics, and it will be verified so we could all trust it. Other layers are then likely to be private and owned by media groups or advertisers, and these will be the extra layers of data that provide the competitive edge.
Currently, numerous JICs across Europe are very different in size and remit. Some smaller organisations can benefit from collaborating with the larger ones to tackle the challenge of media measurement in the future.
For example, the European Viewability Initiative, a cross-industry initiative of IAB Europe, EACA and WFA, brings stakeholders and markets together to deliver a harmonised framework which markets could struggle to achieve individually.
Adaptability will be key, as will sharing best practice and responsibilities. The bigger and stronger JICs would lead the way.
Although the media landscape is constantly changing, basic requirements remain the same: namely, data that is transparent, comparable and privacy-compliant, and data that has standards based around viewability and brand safety. Data you can trust. And the natural guardians of such data are arguably the JICs.
JICs, data owners and stakeholders need to collaborate
There are no easy solutions and much work to do to make the transition from separately maintained currencies and siloed data sets into “connected currencies”. This will need extensive collaboration, not only between JICs themselves, but also with data owners and other stakeholders.
The new reality is one where currencies for planning and data for programmatic need to co-exist and start connecting. Partnerships will form for the joint development of integrated and fused data sets, but media groups should not have to go it alone; JICs need to play a leading role.
Finally let’s not forget the consumer in all this. Viewers and consumers are people not data points. How we gather and safeguard data will be an integral part of the challenge.
The future of media currencies is very much up for grabs. It is up to us as an industry to work with tech players in developing a trusted dataset with common standards that can operate in a in a highly regulated environment.
Otherwise we could be looking at a Wild West scenario with data being controlled by different competing entities each with their own standards and KPIs.
Stefan Heremans is product head media measurement currencies at GfK