Droga5 and a bet on the tent-pole; TV/VOD goes all Brexity

08 Apr 2019  |  Dominic Mills 
Droga5 and a bet on the tent-pole; TV/VOD goes all Brexity

The acquisition of Droga5 shows Accenture believes in the creative Big Idea, writes Dominic Mills. Plus: just as Brexit means different things to different people, so the same can be said for total TV/VOD measurement

The big news of last week was Accenture’s swoop on Droga5. Accenture’s been hoovering up agencies like Supermarket Sweep of late as it pursues its mission for world domination.

Most of this activity has been in the long grass of digital and experiential but as with its earlier purchase of Karmarama, this one is a bit of a game-changer. That’s because Droga5 is a bona fide creative hotshop, rooted in the idea of producing big ideas for clients, but with a modern twist. Like Karmarama, that doesn’t mean it can’t do the nitty gritty of multiple digital iterations, but it starts from a different place.

To borrow from Sir Martin Sorrell, this is what you might call the tent pole stuff. But unlike SMS though, who believes ‘tent-pole’ campaigns are dead, Accenture’s move would suggest the opposite.

It clearly believes clients want and need them, and without Droga5 (and Karmarama), its offering is lacking. Creative-driven agencies, who have been wondering if they’re still relevant of late, will be cheered by this news, as may other independents who will hope Accenture waves the cheque book their way.

Working with the tent-pole analogy, it seems SMS is obsessed (not surprising given the tools at his disposal) with fast-moving, fast-changing, iterative digital content — what you might call the guy ropes of any campaign. But without a tent pole, the guy ropes serve no genuine purpose.

Eeeurgh...total TV/VOD measurement is a bit like Brexit

There are times, it seems to me, when the ongoing debate — a global one, let me say — about total TV/VoD measurement feels a bit like Brexit.

Like Brexit, where the stated aim is to leave, the goal of total TV/VOD measurement is simply defined: to get to a point where advertisers can compare, on a like-for-like, apples-for-apples basis, modern-day viewing habits and ad exposure across multi-screens and multi-platforms. This includes linear TV, BVOD, SVOD and plain old VOD — i.e. content on the YouTube and Facebook platforms.

Crucially, it must be in a way that everyone trusts, as Barb’s Justin Sampson made the point on Mediatel last week, as well as one that is independent, objective and transparent.

Like Brexit, the debate seems to involve parties — broadcasters, JICS (and their foreign equivalents), advertisers, platforms, agencies — with often intractable views. A multi-way Venn diagram would show little commonality of interest.

And just as Brexit means different things to different people, so the same can be said for total TV/VOD measurement.

Consequently, agreement on getting anywhere is as difficult to achieve as Brexit.

Like Brexit, the debate has been going on for at least three years. Unlike Brexit, most of the debate is in private, but there are similar themes. Mutual trust, it feels, is as elusive as that between, say, the ERG and Remainers.

Some participants talk of red lines, others — in a parallel with the Backstop — of ‘max-fac’-type technical solutions. There is talk of the German option (of which more in a moment), or looking at what is happening in the US, where there is progress but grindingly slow.

Meanwhile, in a parallel with Parliament’s attempts to take control, some advertisers seem determined to wrest the initiative themselves.

Unilever, for example, has gone public with its desire, via the World Federation of Advertisers, to develop a cross-media measurement system.

In the UK, Barb’s Project Dovetail is moving forward grappling with nitty-gritty issues such as addressable, and differentiating between post-broadcast BVOD viewing and that via recording devices.

And then there’s the big one, the elephant in the room, adding YouTube and Facebook video, and possibly even SVOD viewing, to Barb. But here there appears to be no progress to report. The sides seem as far apart as ever.

Separately (nobody is talking, so I’m struggling to get a real handle on it), I understand that ISBA is engaging with YouTube and Facebook, or possibly YouTube alone, on something similar. It is probably reasonable to assume that this is a result of the stand-off with Barb.

And then there’s UKOM, reminding adland here that not only does it certify the cross-platform data that underpins PAMCo, but that it also measures UK consumption of YouTube. The parallel here, I suppose, is that of a Parliamentarian saying ‘Hey, don’t forget about super-plus Canada light’ or some such Brexit option.

From what I understand, UKOM is hanging around the fringes of the ISBA effort, but its message is clear: it’s time to de-silo measurement and we’ve got a role to play.

Which is where the Germans come in. Last month, three years after AGF (the German equivalent of Barb) announced it was teaming up for a video measurement project with YouTube, the first results emerged. Search here to get a translated version of the PDF press release.

As far as I can see, this is the first time any Barb equivalent anywhere has attempted this. The question is whether this project will encourage or force other JIC equivalents to follow suit.

The results themselves aren’t especially surprising: German viewing habits are not that dissimilar to those in the UK. Over the observation period of October 2018, adult Germans watched an average of 232 minutes linear TV and 35 minutes, mostly via mobile devices, of streaming video, all bar two minutes of which was on the YouTube platform. And just over half (54% to be exact) of viewing was to YouTube content creators with 30,000 views or less — in other words, towards the lower end of the long tail. It also included content with no advertising inventory available, but which the AGF figures do not distinguish between.

But what is more relevant is the methodology. First, AGF was given YouTube data which it then independently audited. However, we don’t know a) what data it was given and b) how it audited it. Moreover, much of the data related to content against which there was no advertising inventory.

Second, that data was drawn from both a panel and a census, while the linear viewing figures came from a separate panel.

This might sound like an unnecessarily granular level of detail, but Barb has always maintained that a single panel is the way to go, and that because panels are opted-in, they represent the best way to go.

What this means therefore is that the likelihood of an AGF-style measurement system being incorporated into Barb is lower than low — unless of course it can be persuaded to change its red lines.

Indeed, if you read between the lines of the AGF press release, the project has some big hurdles still to clear. One, AGF says it still has to finalise the contractual arrangements for a regular disclosure of YouTube data within the AGF system. And two, a big one, the two sides still have to agree on uniform metrics and comparable content display.

Hmm, quite like Brexit then. The industry pushes forward on multiple fronts simultaneously with not much sign of any coming together. If only they had a deadline to concentrate the minds.

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NickDrew, CEO, Fuse Insights on 12 Apr 2019
“Interesting to read about the TV/ SVOD measurement discussions and progress (or lack thereof). It sounds like it's caught in the common trap of trying to do *everything*, and so failing (for now at least) to do anything. The obvious route is often to build it incrementally - add SVOD to TV as a start, test the data and test again, then build in the next layer - but it rarely seems to go that way...”


17 Jun 2019 

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