UK and US to lead implementation following international peer review

 

 The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) has unveiled an advertiser-centric Framework for cross-media measurement – the “holy grail” for marketers – accompanied by a proposed solution, designed to give advertisers a much greater understanding of the reach and frequency of their advertising efforts. 

The Proposal was developed in partnership with digital platforms, including Facebook and Google, and will now be tested by the UK and US, with ISBA and the ANA respectively leading local efforts.

The WFA has worked with national advertiser associations over the past 18 months to create the Framework, which identifies advertisers’ cross-media measurement needs as well as the pragmatic principles that advertisers believe that all solutions should be bound by. 

This has involved cross-industry consultation with advertisers, agencies, broadcasters, measurement companies and platforms. The goal has been to create a catalyst for local development of new solutions.

Alongside the Framework, the WFA is also publishing a real-world Technical Proposal for a cross-media measurement solution, which meets the principles outlined in the Framework, including on transparency, neutrality and auditing. 

This has been developed in partnership with digital platforms and shared and discussed extensively with the industry. It utilises a panel and census approach (via publisher logs) to give advertisers far greater understanding of the Reach and Frequency of their campaigns across TV and digital media (including both video and other formats). 

The Proposal leverages a Virtual ID (VID) and differential privacy methods to preserve privacy while preventing double-counting of impressions across media. In delivering improved cross-media frequency control, consumers will also benefit by not being unintentionally targeted by the same ad across different media channels, potentially addressing one of the key motivators behind ad blocking. 

Critically, the Proposal acknowledges that measurement is a local business and requires considerable local governance alongside the need for some global (or ‘common’) components to drive consistency and scale. Any aspects of the proposal that require bespoke technology will be open sourced.

It has been tested via an international open comment and peer review exercise earlier this summer, organised by the WFA and involving several hundreds of the industry’s most prominent measurement professionals. This has allowed the wider industry to fully scrutinise, challenge and change the Proposal.

The baton has been passed on to national advertiser associations, and ISBA’s cross-media measurement group, ‘Origin’, and the ANA will now independently explore how the components in the Proposal can be adapted to suit local stakeholder needs, ahead of implementation in their respective markets. Validation efforts will place particular care and focus on how TV data will be integrated with digital data within the Proposal. Both initiatives will focus on ensuring the priorities of advertisers are met while also taking an approach that reflects the needs of broadcasters as well as the changing digital media landscape.

Several other markets and organisations are also looking closely at the components in the Proposal, with a view to possible implementation on the back of the US and UK work.

This announcement reflects nearly 18 months’ work, which was prompted by the WFA’s Global Media Board, comprising 14 key advertisers and associations. Measurement is a key priority for advertisers and the WFA is committed to providing an ongoing platform to share learnings and to develop the ideas and concepts outlined in both the Industry Framework and the Technical Proposal. 

This approach has been supported by the whole WFA membership but the initiative has been steered by several prominent advertisers and advertiser associations, including ANA (US), ISBA (UK), Union des Marques (FR), OWM (DE), Deutsche Telekom, Mars, Mastercard, Nestle, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, The Coca-Cola Company, Unilever and others. The Media Rating Council (MRC) has also been involved in this work throughout.

“Advertisers have long struggled with poor quality data that doesn’t allow them to properly assess how best to invest their ad budgets across multiple platforms and media. This body of work provides a blueprint to build a cross-media measurement solution that responds to advertiser needs. The WFA is proud to have facilitated this work in partnership with key markets, platforms and broadcasters and looks forward to seeing it widely implemented across geographies,” said Stephan Loerke, CEO of the WFA.

“Cross-media measurement is viewed as the ‘holy grail’ for marketers – as it optimizes marketing decision making for driving business and brand growth. ANA has championed measurement development that is viewed through the lens of the marketer for several years. This collaboration with WFA, ISBA and other partners has been galvanizing as it provides the foundation to build local solutions to this highly complex issue. The ANA has been proud to participate in this global venture,” said Bob Liodice, President and CEO of ANA.

"For some time ISBA's members have made the development of independent, accountable cross-media measurement our highest priority. The articulation of a clear advertiser-driven ‘North Star’ and a strong framework of global principles are significant milestones. We look forward to working in partnership to validate the proposed technical approach and to developing a UK solution that leverages the global blueprint," said Phil Smith, Director General of ISBA.

 

“Procter & Gamble has been a proponent of media audience research since the earliest days of broadcast media and is proud to be at the forefront of this breakthrough initiative in partnership with digital platforms, television broadcasters and other major advertisers. We need complete, open, transparent and future-proofed cross media measurement to enable consumers to have a better viewing experience with less annoying repetition, advertisers to be confident that their media budgets are being invested effectively and efficiently, and media companies to be rewarded for delivering high levels of reach and engagement. This is mission-critical, the time is now, we know it won’t be easy, but there has never been a stronger plan, and we need everybody to join in to make it happen.” said Kanishka Das, Senior Director, Global Media Analytics & Insights at Procter & Gamble.

 

“Since early 2019 Unilever has championed cross-media measurement, with the aim of delivering greater transparency as part of our Responsibility Framework. The business case is clear, broadcasters and platforms alike can better value their inventory to attract ad spending, while delivering stronger outcomes for advertisers and driving greater effectiveness of spend. 

 

“But cross-media measurement potentially has a more profound impact than this for our consumers. By driving transparency across all platforms to better understand levels of engagement holistically, it enables improved ad relevance and reduces excessive frequency, ultimately providing a better consumer experience.

 

“This programme, from its guiding principles led by Unilever’s Responsibility Framework to the technical blueprint produced by the WFA, ISBA, ANA and a diverse collection of advertisers, is a critical step towards providing more accountable, transparent and accurate media measurement for all parties,” said Sarah Mansfield, VP Global Media, Unilever.

 

“The process of developing cross-media measurement solutions has been a long journey.  The development of a solution is complex and requires careful planning. There are many challenges that we face; many of these are not technical but instead breaking down barriers that have been established by decades of legacy ways of working. To solve this, we need to think and collaborate across boundaries. We have worked hard to establish a solid start with this Framework and Technical Proposal, and we believe this provides a solid starting point.  In each geography, a lot of work needs to be done to bring it to life in each country.

 

“Marketers steadfastly believe that developing this solution is a critical element in the ability to improve the consumer experience and help the industry operate more productively.  We urge our partners in the industry to understand this goal, the benefits of this initiative, and work collaboratively to drive success of this program and all our businesses,” said Ben Jankowski, Senior Vice President, Media, Mastercard.

 

“Cross-media measurement is a global topic that needs to be answered locally, as every region has different starting positions and demands. I rate it as a great success by the WFA to develop a technical proposal that has the potential to be adopted around the globe and enrich independent local measurement eco-systems,” said Norman Wagner, Head of Group Media, Deutsche Telekom.

 

The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) is the voice of marketers worldwide, representing 90% of global marketing communications spend – roughly US$900 billion per annum – through a unique, global network of the world’s biggest markets and biggest marketers. WFA champions responsible and effective marketing communications worldwide. More information at www.wfanet.org

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Written 17th September 2020
By Abi Gibbons