It’s fair to say that management frameworks are often challenged and centered around disparate media product offerings to define how and where they’re going. There are those who are going to focus on traditional media, while others are more focused on digital media. So right from the start, there are disparate answers.
Stringfield observes, “This in and of itself is a problem that has existed for 15, 20 years, and we haven’t even solved that part. So now that aperture is getting wider. And you’re adding what can only be described as a litany of new digital product offerings. Obviously, things are getting more complicated than simple. Despite the complexity of the media standpoint, let alone the fragmentation audience they’re in, our measurement methods are not evolving at all in terms of keeping up with that pace.”
Bianchi agrees. She points out, “We talked about traditional to digital, and now we have new media of the future that we haven’t even scratched the surface of. How are we measuring that? We’re in the world of media advertising, a lot of the access here is having measurements so that people who would like to connect with certain audiences can find them. It’s like having a map from the 1800s and trying to navigate to something that exists today. That’s really our issue, we’re sending people out without the tools to be able to find the right audiences. They’re not measured, so I can’t find them. I can’t place media or advertising with them. They don’t get advertising media, therefore, they can’t run a business. That cycle continues. We can see it happening, but we don’t have the right tools or map to do a better job.”
Including the Audience
Continuing the conversation around audience—are channels perhaps not inclusive or representative of the promised audience?
“We got hammered with the idea of how well we could represent our audiences with the advent of what was like social networks that had a lot of identity information,” Stringfield says. “Looking back to television measurement, we were looking at things that were essentially context proxies for the audiences that we want to reach. I’m going to place an ad against soap operas because I want to reach women who are going to watch it, who are probably buying the products in the home, and then again all the stereotypical things that are broiled in it. And then all of a sudden, the social networks were introduced. It’s not just that I want to reach women per se. I want women who live in the Midwest that drive a minivan that’s taupe not necessarily beige, should buy Oreos, but not the black and white ones, the yellow and white ones, and so on. We got so down this trail that we digital and general marketers perhaps fooled ourselves, like we nailed it. This is going to be the future. And then digital privacy legislation hits. We started with contextual understanding of the audience that may or may not have been accurate. And now we’re back to going to contextual understandings of audiences that may or may not be accurate.”
Bianchi adds, “We fooled ourselves with the amount of specificity we think that we can have. You know, the left-handed minivan owner that lives in this zip code that has two dogs and you keep doing that, and then your audience is three people. And it’s leaving out the ability to kind of discover on the back end. It’s now gotten so bespoke. And I think I’ve nailed it, but it cost me an arm and a leg to get that bespoke. And my reach is very small. You don’t want to be so niche that you’re not getting to enough people, and it’s actually not performing at a rate of return that makes sense. So it’s finding that place in the middle that you can to learn and discover. And then, guess what? They’re not watching soap operas. They’re watching late night or something else that I wasn’t expecting. And this is actually the way to convert, but I might not have ever seen it. If I come in with those blinders on, I’m going to go down this very prescriptive kind of old school path of the way that you build an audience.”
Can we change that outcome? And perhaps change the antiquated frameworks and carry the antiquated KPIs that we depend on now?
“Even very standardized tools like viewability and time on page, it’s all proxies for what people want at the end of the day, which is I want someone to transact with,” says Bianchi. “So if we’ve kept filtering along the way, we might have actually lost some of the people that actually can convert in the effort of converting. It’s how can we get to different kinds of metrics, and it might be something that’s more around engagement. That shows up in different ways than probably a click through rate or a dwell time or something else. Are we willing to get to different KPIs that might not live in regular reach and frequency and get ourselves comfortable with it. That’s a meaningful way to measure an engagement with an audience, that happens to be not one of our typical media metrics.”
The Ad Works, Sort Of
It was all kind of this framework of opportunity to see. But do we know if the consumer actually saw it? In other words, are the ads working or not?
Stringfield continues the conversation: “We’re getting pretty good about the extent to which that I’m pretty certain that this person or cohort of people saw this ad. But we stopped caring whether the ads work or not. And that’s the part that asks, did we have the right reach, did the message actually connect? That’s a much chunkier problem to address. But it does give me hope that when you look at ongoing dialogues of should we start looking at an attention-based framework? Again, that’s kind of up to the industry. What is the currency and then, importantly, how do we measure. On the one hand, I’m encouraged that there’s starting to be a little bit more momentum in that direction, but I can’t help but feel a little bit of trepidation that we’ve really started to go as deeply as possible in terms of just kind of verifying that someone might have seen a thing, but not whether or not there was any cognitive impact or change of behaviors. That’s actually what we’re trying to do.”
So attention metrics, great idea. It’s not new and kind of aiming towards that is great, but then that also is not the whole picture.
“Again, you look at viewability metrics, the time spent. These are all just ways to say I’m verifying you’re a human. Did you spend enough time to take any action. Now I’m going to take an action. Might have clicked something, looked at something, spent some time with it, downloaded something. Now we’re getting closer. Then did you actually convert by something, sign up for a service. Give me your name. This is just like a little crumb trail that we’re following down. Did you actually then make a relationship with me at the end of the day?” says Bianchi. “And I think we’re still using a lot of proxy metrics to get there. The problems are getting a little bit bigger as we get closer. But yes, I don’t think we’ve gotten there, unless you have a really just wonderfully articulate sort of ROI system that closes a loop on sales. And maybe for Amazon, it works great but I think for a lot of others, it’s very indirect and this is where it’s really tough.”
See the full video to dive into more on the topic of measurement frameworks. Our panel explores a case study on Twitch that featured female gamers, inclusivity, different metrics of success, engagement, effective media and more.