A research project that set out to discover how connected adults behave in their consumption of and attitudes towards the number of communication channels available to them has found that unless consistent metrics across traditional and digital channels are developed, industry growth will be put at risk.
Kantar Media’s DIMENSION study explores key communication planning, buying and measurement issues faced by the industry from the perspective of consumers and industry leaders. It showed that “a lack of consistent, comparable measures to understand the audience and gauge the effectiveness of advertising is a significant concern for those working in the communications planning ecosystem”. And, it warned, over-targeting could alienate consumers who, broadly, “have no fundamental problem with advertising, and damaging their relationships with brands”.
Andy Brown, CEO and chairman of Kantar Media, said that “without the availability of consistent, comparable metrics, brands and the advertising industry cannot accurately measure their audience, the impact and effectiveness of their marketing and the accuracy of individual campaigns”. And, he added, this is a “collective challenge for our industry: Unless we work together to solve this problem, the growth of the sector will be hindered.”
In the introduction to the report, Brown listed top-line results from the research.
- There is (an encouraging) synergy between how consumers feel about media channels and formats, and the messages they carry, and leaders’ priorities and concerns.
- All communication forms, new and established, remain relevant and have a role to play in the lives of connected adults.
- Consumers are increasingly savvy about what constitutes ‘advertising’. Attempting to convince them that a paid-for brand message in whatever form and however transmitted is somehow ‘not advertising’ will fail.
- Overall attitudes towards advertising remain positive or neutral. A minority ‘dislike’ advertising.
- Online advertising is less popular than advertising in more established vehicles. Reasons include excessive repetition and unsophisticated retargeting.
- Although adblocking is at a significant level, its rise and reported growth is less to do with any intrinsic dislike of ads and more to do with improving the online experience, especially on mobile.
- Despite its relative unpopularity, online advertising is seen as becoming more personally relevant – a trend that is largely welcomed by consumers and leaders alike.
- Consumer relevance is driven by data; and ‘data’, in all its forms, is a key topic for the industry’s leaders.
- Quality, objectivity and independent verification in the data we use is far more important than simply having a great deal of it. Leaders feel we’re just scratching the surface of what is possible (particularly in the creative space) given a smart use of data.
- We are entering an era of collaborations and partnerships, within which open access to major datasets plays a huge role.
- Cross-media and cross-format campaigns are increasingly the norm (an approach that is noticed by consumers). Such an evolution demands a holistic approach to audience measurement.
- At a time when ‘big data’ proliferates, the context in which a message occurs matters (and a significant proportion of consumers do notice it). This issue will only grow in importance.
- Communicating commercial messages via mobile devices has a bright future as an intrinsic part of the world we live in. The close, positive relationship consumers have with their devices should be seen as a wake-up call to the industry to pay as much attention to the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ as to the ‘how many’.
But, Brown said, “So long as standards differ between markets and across media forms no one wins. Brands can’t track spend, agencies can’t deliver the best solutions for their clients, and consumers’ openness to marketing will diminish if the channels used to reach them are not used intelligently. That collective challenge cannot be solved without consistent, comparable metrics across every channel and every major advertising market.”