OPINION: PAUL ON ... PEOPLE, NOT STATISTICS

’So, this TVR (television rating), a radio OTH (opportunity to hear) and a press coverage point walk into a pub and ...’

’So, this TVR (television rating), a radio OTH (opportunity to

hear) and a press coverage point walk into a pub and ...’



’No, hang on, there’s a TVR, an OTH and a press coverage point in this

car showroom when one of them says to the salesman ...’



Nope, that’s not right either. ’So, there’s a TVR, an OTH and a press

coverage point on a skiing holiday when, er ...’



Okay, I admit it. They weren’t in the pub, nor buying a car and they

can’t ski. In fact, they haven’t done anything. Nor will they, because

they will never exist.



People, however, do exist. They eat, drink, sleep, talk too loudly on

their mobile phones and spend money, which is why we present them with

our advertising communications.



We all know that media departments have been attempting to improve their

planning by trying to better understand this fact: people do stuff, not

statistics.



But I’m scared that people might try to move the clock back.



A recent Admap article proposed that a new tool for improving media cost

efficiency would spell the end of ’qualitative’ media insights into

people. This is a dreadful proposition. One could believe that this

relationship - between the two sets of figures that are media campaign

delivery and media budget - is the object of media planning. Then one

must also believe that the TVR, the radio OTH and the press coverage

point were in that pub.



Wrong, wrong, wrong. All jargon. All measuring systems are great, but

they’re nothing more than that: systems and tools. They only reflect our

ability to do the real job, which is to present people with our

advertisers’ messages in the best manner.



It’s critical that media doesn’t lose sight of this fact, for the

further we steep ourselves in the statistics of measuring people and the

less we understand them, the greater the dis-service we do our clients

and ourselves.



Media has navel-gazed at statistics instead of people for so long that

the skill of finding media insights into consumers is still in its

infancy.



Meanwhile, creative agency account planners roar ahead. By isolating

itself from planners’ key skill in understanding people, media comes out

poorer.



You can be cynical and claim this is all frills around the central

buying function, but with most agencies inevitably buying at similar

rates it is key insights into people that will increasingly

differentiate media agencies.



So why does the media industry still rely so overwhelmingly on

numbers?



Why do media people promote a better way of measuring people instead of

real media insights into them? Simply because it’s easier to carry on

with the numbers in lieu of real effort, real insight and real

understanding.



If we ensure that we ’get’ people and we ensure this happens before the

numbers are crunched, we will have nicer campaigns and nicer lives.

’Get’ people and you’ll be revived. Flaxen-haired maidens will fall at

your feet and clients will go all gooey.



Actually, they might not, but at least you won’t have wasted your life

looking at a computer screen.