A call for ‘fusion’ in media research currencies was the main outcome of the latest AMASA workshop.
The workshop brought together agency representatives, clients and media owners representing different media research currencies to discuss the state of media research in the South African advertising media and marketing industry, as well as explore possible solutions to the isolation conundrum.
“Most media currencies have their own research… When agency people and clients use this data, it’s kind of all over the place. Each media releases their research at different times, so there is no consistency in historical trending,” says Andrew Maluleka, AMASA committee member with the monthly forums portfolio, explaining why this topic was chosen.
A media strategist or client will have a single strategy, not multiple ones for different media types, as they want everything to be synergistic. “At the moment it seems like there’s no fusion. You can’t go through a single software and get all the media currencies at once,” adds Maluleka.
What they are looking for is a single source, where actionable datasets from different media types can be compared
The role players
Representatives at the event included Peter Langschmidt of the Publisher Research Council; Tatiana Ndlovu of Nedbank, who was representing the marketing industry; Isla Prentis, business unit manager of The MediaShop, who represented media agencies, Lauren Shapiro of the Outdoor Measurement Council; Ryan Smit, head of the Measurement Council at the IAB, Lynne Krog, a research consultant who represented ROOTS; Terry Murphy, managing director of Nielsen; and Stephany Brewer, chief client officer of the insights division for Africa & Middle East at Kantar. Other research role-players were invited, but could not attend due to clashes with the release of their diaries.
Media research should evolve
The consensus from the audience was that media research should evolve, but not just for the sake of evolving, but to be practical, fast and produce actionable insights.
“The overall atmosphere was that all the currencies are evolving, they are trying to correct the previous regime’s mistakes. But the frustration is that it’s difficult to make sense out of all this as it’s still so isolated for someone to make an actionable decision out of,” explains Maluleka.
Nielsen working with the PRC, to combine print research data with retail data, was cited as an example of fusion that has already occurred, but more integration was called for, with a hope that this example will serve as a yardstick or case study for future collaboration.
Different data collection methods
Another concern raised at the workshop was the issue of the reliability of data collection methods, particularly in rural and semi-rural areas, and township environments.
“Clients have got empowerment targets, and to empower you need to work with small players. But because of lack of data and not being able to justify spend, that was also raised,” says Maluleka.
Small players being incorporated into the research, and the costs involved with that, was also raised by a small OOH player at the gathering. “The client proposed that there can be an initiative where an agency and client can collaborate to try and focus on small players to help them with some form of research, that the big players have, to tap into,” he adds.
Integrity of the data also questioned
Stemming from research methods were concerns around the integrity of the data collected, i.e. whether respondents to research questions are time constrained, and simply rushing through questionnaires, after they’ve had a long day at work, just to get them over with. How to constantly improve data collection methods to make them more efficient and credible, is the golden question, which may be solved by utilising technology more effectively to gather data. Getting rid of paper data collection, and utilising tablets, may well be the future.
Media research stakeholders need to work together
“In wrapping up, it was more to say, the industry stakeholders need to work together to make it easy for the state of research to evolve to a positive point, collaboration is the answer, though it is not going to be easy as everyone has their own way of approaching research based on their platform,” concludes Maluleka.
So the message is clear: The industry needs to collaborate to end up with a software solution that contains all media research datasets. Two questions remain unanswered, and they’re quite serious ones: Firstly when it comes to fusing data or combining different types of datasets from various currencies, who will oversee the credibility of data fusion without compromising on the integrity of the outcome? And secondly, will there be a single software to accommodate multiple datasets for easy access and speed of delivering data or not?
Only time will tell.
Michael Bratt is a multimedia journalist at Wag the Dog, publishers of The Media Online and The Media. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelBratt8