OPINION21 September 2020

Reciprocity, cooperation and integration

Media Opinion Technology UK

For audience measurement in the digital age, few organisations or joint industry committees can successfully go it alone. David Fletcher looks at how UK Online Measurement (UKOM) is finding strength in collaboration.

Collaboration cogs working together_crop

In their book Six Simple Rules, Boston Consulting Group authors Yves Morieux and Peter Tollman posit that too many businesses are using management techniques that just don’t fit with modern business needs. The authors observe that management based on classical thinking has combined structural fixes with people-oriented approaches. Such approaches have made things more complex through a spiralling of performance requirements for teams and individuals that cause friction in the wider organisation.

It’s all too easy to see that in media. Whether you’re a platform, publisher, advertiser or agency, you’ll be spending just as much time now as you were 20 years ago grappling with the challenge of profitably delivering excellence in digital channels and balancing those expressions strategically with the wider objectives for your business.

If you’re not driving innovation in these things, you’ll at the very least want to catch the wave at which the acceleration in adoption yields competitive advantage but without betting the family silver. Tomorrow’s landscape is guaranteed to be different but only partially predictable.

All of which means that we are continuously looking at structures and processes to get some rhythm into the ‘business as usual’ but make room to glimpse just-round-the-corner, and then work out how to re-segment everything on the fly. Do we, for instance, have video experts across platforms or platform experts across formats, or both or… what?  

Of course, more process charts and KPIs at the team level should add rigour to the organisational design, but as Morieux and Tollman observe, this doesn’t solve the problem. Their alternative is a behavioural approach based on reciprocity, co-operation and integration.

Which brings us to UK Online Measurement. UKOM is an attempt to bring integration that at a fundamental level – the audience – joins the components of online marketing together and with a toolkit that’s built on the tried and tested. 

Just months away from the launch of the UKOM-endorsed Ipsos ‘Iris’ solution, some core differentiators are clear. Daily top-line audience data will provide the opportunity for closer single source understanding of how the world affects digital consumption – we could have done with that as Covid-19 unfolded. The prospect of campaign measurement against strategically defined audiences, constructed on a nationally representative panel, also comes as a welcome opportunity for a step change.

Inevitably, there are gaps (notably in the arena of broadcaster video on-demand) which may need addressing down the line. Such gaps, though, are a quibble at this stage.

It is perhaps best to think of UKOM more as an idea in action than a data set or tool per se. Rule number two of the ‘six simple rules’ is to ‘reinforce integrators’. “Integrators bring others together and drive processes. They work at the nexus where constraints and requirements often meet.”[ 1 ]

UKOM has got to where it is now by doing exactly this – working where the constraints of platform-specific metrics and the requirement for cross-channel metrics meet. While the Ipsos technology platform can only really be judged post launch, UKOM has created a broad coalition of interest sufficiently supportive to get to a credible solution. Not just its trade body ‘owners’ (IAB, AOP, Isba and IPA in an advisory capacity) but a wider group encompassing the BBC, Ofcom, Newsworks, Magnetic, PamCo and others.

This will not have been easy. The global platforms are successful by playing on a global scale, so engaging with the UK runs counter to strategy. Blended publishers, for whom a digital future dovetails a declining print model and vitally maintained heritage of journalistic standards, have limited common interest with platforms. Indeed, it is this lack of common interest and conformity of definition that has thwarted previous joint industry committee attempts at joined-up audience measurement.

It is to the credit of the effective underwriting partners who licence UKOM endorsement (Comscore historically and Ipsos from January 2021 ) to seize the ambition and make it tangible. It is tempting to see UKOM unfolding over the next three to five years as the successful digital platforms did: build a product that gets saturation, repeat adoption through excellent delivery and only fully monetise at the point of indispensability. 

Indeed, the adoption of UKOM data by PamCo is an example of extending reach that adds to the core proposition as well as to PamCo. But structural, political and economic barriers remain. There are gaps to be closed and some crunch decisions to come. Of course, all this pre-supposes a delivery to pitch promise that gets UKOM traction across the digital ecosystem.

The last of the ‘six simple rules’ is: ‘reward those who cooperate’. Whichever corner of the Lumascape you’re in, you’re in a position to see the potential for an integrating idea that might help us all.

David Fletcher is chief data officer at Wavemaker 


 [ 1 ] https://www.bcg.com/en-gb/capabilities/smart-simplicity/six-simple-rules-overcoming-complexity