Last week's post touched on the importance of accurate, independent audience measurement. The reasons are clear; the joint industry or JIC system, used widely except in the USA (where a collaborative approach comes to much the same thing) may date back years but it has without question benefited the industry as a whole. Except when it comes to digital. Here the need for independence and objectivity has been highlighted by what will no doubt become known as L'Affaire Facebook. The whole argument is put very well here by Richy Glassberg from Medialets, a GroupM business. Many agencies, not just GroupM have made this point and made it well. Indeed it was a sharp-eyed researcher at Publicis Media that spotted the FB issue in the first place. But why don't the agencies get as heated or contribute as much to the debate when it comes to other more significant (in terms of money spent) forms of media -- like TV?
Before someone from the IPA jumps all over me I know that there are a handful of hard-working agency executives who contribute to the UK's joint industry systems, and in particular to BARB.
BARB and its equivalents in other markets take a long time to change. There are good reasons for this, no one wants to rush into changing something this significant without thinking through the impact first -- especially with so much money riding on the results.
If you want to influence the direction that major industry studies (like BARB) take you need to become involved early so that you can help shape the debate. Each year for the last 25 the conference company asi has put on a major international event for just this purpose. Every year the leading research companies, broadcasters and trade bodies from all over the world come together to hear of the latest developments in TV and radio research, to discuss them, and to help shape their future direction. This year's event, in Budapest in early November has attracted more delegates than ever before, no doubt in part a reflection of the changing times.
It's not all about research technology; this year's agenda features Peter Field, the IPA's ad effectiveness guru talking about what can be learned from his evaluation of thousands of case studies. (For those unfamiliar with Peter's work, you can hear an interview with him here.)
Each year the organizers try and entice the agency sector to attend. After all, their contribution to the debate should be heard.
This year, out of 300+ delegates two are from agencies, or rather agency, as both are from OMG.
In addition, there is one agency speaker, Marie Oldham from VCCP Media on the data needs of strategists.
No delegates from GroupM, or Dentsu Aegis, or Publicis, or IPG. You might wonder why. The organizers certainly do, so they've called one or two to find out. There are (they were told) travel bans in place at some agencies.
Of course, it may be that the agencies' researchers have less access to travel budgets than (as one example) their digital counterparts. Sitting in a room helping to shape the future of audience research by understanding the pros and cons of what others do may not have the glamour of ad:tech trade shows but it is important. Not contributing seems like an opportunity lost, for both sides.
It's worth remembering where some agencies' priorities lie when next you read a headline from someone from some agency castigating industry audience measures.
Disclaimer: Although I will be chairing a session at the asi conference mentioned here I have no commercial interest in either asi or the event.
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