Future of Media Research 2012

On Friday 3rd February, I attended an interesting seminar run by MediaTel related to the future of media research. The panel included senior representatives of media agencies, publishers, digital specialists, stations and researchers.

My intention is not to detail the discussions nor attribute comments to people – especially as most of the time the panel and audience had a common consensus. Instead, I will share the main themes and thoughts that materialised.

Researchers vs Data Technicians

The discussion started with thoughts on how businesses are structured and the general view was that in most companies Researchers and Data Technicians are separated and they do not always work closely enough together.  The key points raised were:

  • Researchers need Data Technicians to extract the data an enable the fusion of data sources.
  • Data Technicians need Researchers to identify models and techniques.
  • The business needs both; but the quality and relevance of the results will be determined by the Researchers.  Researchers need to be the gate keepers.
  • The industry has moved towards valuing outcomes rather than last click. As a result, research, attribution, correlation and modelling are essential rather than just factual reporting on live data.
  • Data and IT specialists can create fancy dashboards, but do the results actually make sense and provide useful informed information to the agency, publisher or advertiser? Researchers can make sure that they do!

Data Fusion

Data FusionDue to the various sources of data available and the depth of information required for modern day results, the requirement to merge or fuse various data sources into a single reporting / analytical database is the norm. The key points raised were:

  • To enable data fusion, common elements are required to bring the sources together.
  • Without the common element, no amount of clever modelling nor algorithms will provide useful and relevant results.
  • The most common and difficult fusion is where panel data generated from surveys and interviews is brought together with detailed and granular live or registration data.
  • The Nielsen system that brings together NRS and UCOM data together and IPA Touchpoints were given as examples of the way forward to make sense of the multi media channel world.


The value and future of JICs were discussed in terms of their role and their relevance in the new digital world.

  • The offline world has run successfully with the various JICs being responsible for managing and controlling the quality of data used across the industry for trading.
  • The UK JICs are recognised as providing the quality that is missing in other parts of the world.
  • The closest body in the digital world is now UCOM, but the feeling is that they do not have same level of responsibility and acceptance as the offline JICs.
  • All offline JICs are aware of digital and are working towards understanding how it works and will affect their various media channels.
  • There was a common feeling that a JIC can sometimes seem slow in reacting, but that is the nature of running as a committee and getting decisions made.
  • JICs provide the confidence in quality and accuracy needed for trading.
  • JICs will carry on into the future.


A question was asked about the advertiser’s view of research and data. The key points raised were as follows:

  • Much is expected of digital media as the perception is that everything is captured and available for reporting and analysis.
  • Advertisers expect the agency or publishers to prove the results of digital activity as they expect the evidence available for everything that has happened.
  • An argument was given that advertisers can’t just be given results purely based on factual data as they need to understand the environment and context present when the behaviour took place.
  • All major retail advertisers have been, or are, working towards bringing together shop / loyalty card data with set-top box data – bringing a much more accurate view of conversions and behaviour.

Digital & Mobile

  • Rajar provided examples of where online is being used more for surveys rather than paper forms or diaries.
  • It was not felt this helped reduce costs, but rather it was key to appreciate the preferences of the respondents and a majority would prefer to complete online.
  • Some discussion took place on mobile technology that enables capture of data without respondents having to do anything. All based on opting in of course!
  • Audio watermarking was discussed as a way of tracking and logging activity with no interaction required by the listener. This could be used for visual activity too. There seemed to be a buzz about the technology that is becoming available.
  • Connected/Smart TV was suggested as being a really interesting device that will change behaviour and change what people actually do on different devices.
  • The nature of a secondary device being used whilst watching TV was discussed and identified as changing behaviour as was the need to track behaviour across multiple devices.
  • Facebook GoogleThe relationship between TV and social media is an interesting one and the challenge will be in bringing together the various sets of data available and results of a campaign
  • Social media measurement is very difficult, but the newly released insights data made available on FaceBook will help identify the effect of advertising.  The days of just counting ‘Likes’ has really come to an end.
  • Some felt that FaceBook have got it wrong with their new timeline that shows activity going back in time. The Google+ approach of using Circles to decide what information goes where may be more acceptable to users over time.


  • Targeting is getting better all the time, due to technology enhancements and data availability.
  • Demographics are changing from your typical sex and age ranges to behaviour at a particular time and interests.  It was felt this will only increase over time.
  • Suppliers like Sky have been testing the ability to enable targeting for some time. Sky are is expected to launch this service during 2013.
  • Privacy was discussed, but everyone is aware of this and building it into their strategies.
  • The scary thought of cameras on TVs as a mean identifying people in the room for research purposes was felt to be a much higher privacy issue than a cookie!