FEATURE5 January 2023

Turning fragmentation into clarity: navigating an increasingly complex media world

Features Insight Alchemy

Research Live talks with Sarah Robson, global head of advertising effectiveness, On Device Research, about the session he will be chairing in March at Insight Alchemy 2023, the MRS Annual Conference.

Sarah Robson cropped

You don’t have to be in TV research to know that the digital media landscape is increasingly fragmented. All it takes is a glance at your credit card statement – and the proliferation of subscription payments to streaming services. But it’s not just TV.

The social media is also shaking out, with a billionaire-inspired conniption at Twitter, the failure-to-launch of the Metaverse and even Google’s search behemoth under twin attack from privacy-based services on one side and machine learning on the other.

That makes researching the digital media landscape – much less advising on how to refine advertising and content on various platforms – a considerable challenge. And with budgets under pressure – in both media creative and ad-buying – this fragmentation couldn’t have come at a worse time.

Or could it? “This does all focus people on the need for media understanding to be more precise and accountable – with the goal of using digital and media in a more effective and efficient way,” says Sara Robson, Global Head Of Advertising Effectiveness at On Device Researcgh, who’ll be chairing the media debate at MRS Insight Alchemy 2023.

“Our own specialism has traditionally been omnichannel, and how to demonstrate the efficiency of consolidated digital spend,” she continues. “But right now the insights research professionals can bring will also be particulary valuable to frame and evaluate creative work; and how to stay fleet-footed around changing digital consumption habits.”

That’s an area that panellist Neil Mortensen, Director of Audiences at ITV, is eager to speak to. “We have to be a key enabler of ITV’s digital and streaming strategy, and this has meant we have had to reshape and reskill ourselves to continually deliver effective support for ITV in the future,” he explains. “Digital upskilling has been the focus for the Audience team, and that’s put us at the heart of the accelerated digital strategy. TV programmes and ads are viewed in an increasingly complex landscape, and the work we have done is helping restore simplicity and empower the ITV teams to get to the right information quickly and make better and quicker decisions.”

Adapting skills? Helping frame increasingly complex markets? Getting to heart of decision-making? That’s three ticks on the Insight Alchemy checklist.

Research Live: What aspect of the research industry right now excites you?

Sarah Robson: The continued growth of advanced technology is incredibly exciting. This offers the industry huge potential to deliver increasingly effective methodologies and outputs becoming more accountable & efficient than ever before.

Give us one prediction for the start of 2023?

It’s likely to be difficult for many brands – and therefore there will be an increased requirement for accountability and research to back up all business decisions. It will be more important than ever for brands to remain top of mind – and for research to help demonstrate accountability for all marketing spend.

What’s the most compelling impact you’ve seen from research during 2022?

The industry’s increased access to tech and data has ensured R&I teams are now more active throughout the entire media planning and buying cycles. This in turn ensures the right insights are used to activate better purchase decisions and more latterly, the right methodologies are deployed post campaign to allow for the most effective analysis.

More widely, this behaviour allows teams to make more holistic and informed decisions whilst also allowing brands and agencies the ability to minimise on wastage better than ever before.

In uncertain times, what one piece of advice would you offer younger research professionals?

I've seen many recessions before and ultimately the world does carry on. The industry will recover. So my advice would be not to panic, hold steady, and ride it out whilst ensuring all your decisions always remain accountable.

Find out more about Insight Alchemy 2023 - programme and headline speakers