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Simon Redican 

Facebook is 2014

Facebook is 2014

Current data scandals show that UK publishers were right to back their instincts and invest in a new joint industry currency, writes Simon Redican

I became CEO of National Readership Survey Ltd (forerunner of PAMCo), in June 2014. At the time Facebook was being lauded as Campaign’s Medium of the Year. ‘The world’s biggest social network became a grown up advertising medium in 2014’ proclaimed the industry bible.

Much has changed in the subsequent four years, and without wishing to be grandiloquent, our journey in search of a new industry currency for published media offers some interesting comparisons with what has happened to Campaign’s 2014 “Medium of the Year”.

Let’s start with NRS Ltd. In 2014, the UK publishing industry did some genuine soul searching. The industry currency, NRS no longer served the commercial needs of users. Many thought newsbrand and magazine publishers would follow the lead of the pure play technology players. They could save themselves millions in research costs, abandon the seemingly outdated Joint Industry Currency model and rely on proprietary data to monetise their audiences.

The very different decision they made was significant for published media, and as it turns out for the ad industry as a whole. Rather than take the then lauded Silicon Valley route of launching proprietary data into the market and letting users make their own judgements, with little, if any verification, publishers recognised the value in the ‘old school’ UK joint industry currency approach.

Not only did our stakeholders at NMA, PPA and IPA invest in a new industry currency, they also significantly increased this investment to deliver a gold standard currency with much increased usability.

The subsequent travails of Facebook and its now derided promises of delivering advertisers more people than actually exist, coupled with the latest revelations around Cambridge Analytica and abuse of personal data, now cast the publishers’ 2014 decision in a very favourable light.

With our partners at Ipsos and comScore, we have developed world and sector leading methodology combining tried and trusted, high quality face to face interviews with digital data specially produced for publishers and our very own digital panel. This new PAMCo data allows users to look at de-duplicated reach and frequency of audience delivery across all publisher platforms – phone, tablet, desktop and print.

This utility unlocks the huge audiences consuming publisher content on mobile and tablet devices in addition to print and desktop and opens up many new opportunities to plan and trade the audiences drawn to the world class content produced by UK publishers.

ISBA and the IPA were particularly prescient last summer when they published ‘A Matter of Fact’ a report calling for accountable audience measurement across the industry.

Proper objective, accountable and transparent measurement feels much more 2018 than the discredited 2014 Silicon Valley approach of spewing out data at haste, with scant regard or responsibility for the consequences.

PAMCo’s Technical Group will continue to work with our research partners at Ipsos and comScore to continually refine our approach and to address the new challenges to transparent measurement which will inevitably arise in such a fast changing market.

With editorial content that has never been more popular or vital and with effectiveness evidence pouring forth from industry bodies Magnetic and Newsworks, together with significantly increased investment in PAMCo the brand new industry currency, might published media find itself lauded as 2018’s Medium of the Year?

Simon Redican is CEO, Publishers Audience Measurement Company

The new PAMCo data will be available to view on Mediatel on Thursday morning.

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