Do media agencies need new metrics?

Media metrics are outdated in the digital era, Colin Gottlieb argues. Alasdair Reid wonders if the industry agrees.

Speaking at Media360, Colin Gottlieb, the EMEA chief executive of Omnicom Media Group, argued that the established framework of media metrics – now decades-old and, arguably, rather outdated – was making life difficult for media agencies.

Gottlieb believes that it is time the industry finds new metrics that can then be fed into a client’s brand and business key performance indicators.

For instance, social media has made everyone question the meaning of previously unambiguous terms such as "audience" and "engagement". And there is now more point-of-sale advertising, where different rules have always applied.

In turn, everyone has had to address fundamental definitions of media value. And, for media agencies, this creates a problem. Gottlieb argued that a lot of media agency tasks these days feed directly into the front end of clients’ e-commerce operations – and the old metrics don’t begin to reflect the true value of that work.

He asked: "There is a push towards real-time marketing and personal, measurable experiences, but why are we still using media metrics from 30 years ago?"

On the other hand, some argue that all trading must be benchmarked – and audience is as good a benchmark as any. The standard joint industry currencies may not be perfect – but they are doing their best to evolve. Witness, for instance, Barb’s recent appointment of Kantar to collect data on viewing via all computing devices, including tablets.

After all, there’s nothing stopping agencies from conducting their own research on top of standard industry data. Indeed, the major players are doing this. So you could argue this from the other direction and say that industry data is inadequate – but conclude that this is now irrelevant.

However, Gottlieb’s comments at Media360 chimed with views expressed recently by Laura Desmond, the global chief executive of Starcom MediaVest Group. Earlier this month, she called for new forms of audience research that would reflect the growing importance of multiscreening.

So, are media metrics out of date?


NO Jim Hytner, G14 chief executive, IPG Mediabrands

"Discussing media metrics seems to be missing the point. We want our clients to know that their business outcomes are all we care about as we create strategies. I want us to be judged – and paid – on the basis of a client’s success."

YES Jenny Biggam, founding partner, the7stars

"Overcomplicated payment-by-results schemes [as opposed to those based on conventional media metrics] often encourage the wrong behaviour, but fee structures should reflect the time and team required to do the job."

MAYBE Bob Wootton, director of media and advertising, ISBA

"Agencies will continue to need currencies for media transactions – and advertisers need benchmarks. The best way of guaranteeing these currencies is through joint industry committees. JICs have moved faster recently."

YES Matthew Hook, chief strategy officer, Carat

"There are now quite a few clients with an appetite for remuneration models based on metrics of real business value and some shared risk. The next frontier is to align multiple agencies behind the same measures."

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