Industry caution as ISBA's Origin claims proof of concept milestone

Project leaders cite progress in combining TV and digital metrics, but some are sceptical.

Origin: aims to measure advertiser reach across multiple media devices (Photo: Getty Images)
Origin: aims to measure advertiser reach across multiple media devices (Photo: Getty Images)

Origin, the UK cross-media measurement project led by ISBA, now claims success in its quest to measure the reach and frequency of campaigns across linear broadcast TV and digital.

However, one senior media planner at a holding group, who spoke to Campaign under the condition of anonymity, warned more work needs to be done.

Origin's proof of concept (POC) trial worked by matching real-life TV panel data to a virtual ID, which was able to be modelled and compared with digital media reach and frequency metrics. ISBA is working in partnership with Ipsos and audience measurement firm RSMB.

Origin’s aim is to provide a single source of reach and frequency data across different media channels (initially TV and digital) that helps marketers and media planners understand the actual reach of a campaign and eliminate duplication.

At present, marketers and their media agency partners use several measurement sources that have vastly different definitions of what constitutes reach and frequency, and how that data is gathered.

Origin said the test performance had “exceeded our expectations” in terms of how its modelling correlated with real-life campaign results.

“The first test is to measure the goodness of fit, to understand any bias, so look at the campaign reach of the modelled campaign against the actual campaign. We did this across the total campaign, sub-demographics, and size of campaign, to name a few,” Origin research director Joe Lewis said.

“The second test was to look at regression to the mean. This is basically a statistical test that measures how well the model preserves duplication.

“Across both tests, the results were good. The proof of concept has successfully tested and validated the application not only to TV data but also in explaining cross-media campaigns across TV and digital, successfully preserving correlations across both. There can be no denying now that, as a concept, it works, it is tested and validated by independent third parties.”

ISBA head of media Bobi Carley said the validation of Origin testing is “another step towards making cross-media measurement a reality”. 

“For marketers the holy grail of true cross-media measurement is not a nice to have, it’s a must have,” she said. “Different media agencies have different views about what that means." 

Industry caution

The optimism expressed by Origin’s proponents is not shared across the industry. 

A senior media planner familiar with Origin’s progress, who spoke to Campaign on the condition of anonymity, said that while concluding the POC phase was an important step, there was a sense that “it feels more like testing the pipes” and further work needed to be done on how Origin would define and compare TV reach with that of digital.

“It’s clear they are still working though the details and more work is needed to make this worthwhile for the industry,” the planner said. “It’s quite bold to draw a line in the sand and define what the value of a ‘view’ is across multiple channels.

“In the medium term, we want to know what the outputs will look like and how a manager can use the data without someone senior having to go on and put in constraints about the value of TV being worth ‘x’, YouTube being worth ‘y’ and Facebook being worth ‘z’.”

In other words, finding a way to compare the value of different media metrics is a puzzle that is far from complete. 

TV executives are also wary about comparing the reach and frequency of TV advertising with those of digital and other channels due to differences in what constitutes an impression, viewability and how they are currently being measured.

They argue that comparing TV with other media channels is akin to comparing apples with oranges, and could devalue how TV advertising impacts are perceived by clients. 

Recently, ITV sales chief Kelly Williams talked up the value of NBC Universal’s CFlight, which will harmonise measurement across all digital and linear television and provide reach and frequency figures for total TV.

Willliams said it allows an advertiser to measure de-duplicated reach and frequency across linear and their BVOD campaigns, and would “push advertisers who have been cautious about moving to VOD”.

The next phase of Origin will involve futher development, testing and building a market-ready service.

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