Forging ahead with cross-media measurement in 2021
As a tech PR agency, GingerMay works with many companies within the digital advertising landscape, and we understand the importance of accurate, standardised measurement across all media channels. So we were not surprised when the industry welcomed the unveiling of the World Federation of Advertisers’ (WFA) advertiser-centric framework earlier this year, along with a real-world technical proposal for a cross-media measurement solution.
Effective measurement enables advertisers to make the best use of budgets by determining true, unduplicated reach and frequency. Rather than wasting advertising spend on impressions that drive diminishing or even negative value, they can invest in the channels that really drive results – increasing efficiency, boosting campaign effectiveness and improving ROI. This is particularly relevant in the current climate, where advertisers are media planning with additional budget constraints. Accurate cross-media measurement also improves the customer experience by enabling frequency capping, and helps online publishers value inventory more effectively.
The WFA framework was put together at a global level, and the proposal was developed in partnership with key digital platforms such as Google and Facebook. But it is being tested on a local level, by the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ISBA) in the UK and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) in the US. Solutions will be built locally, with independence across the methodology, standards and outputs. Here we take a deeper look at what the WFA measurement framework is, and how its implementation is progressing here in the UK.
What is the WFA cross-media measurement framework?
The WFA framework for cross-media measurement was put together following 18 months of consultation with advertisers, agencies, broadcasters, measurement companies and platforms, to provide a catalyst for development of local measurement solutions. It outlines advertisers’ cross-media measurement needs – described as the ‘North Star’ – as well as industry requirements that advertisers believe any measurement solution should be bound by.
The advertiser needs outlined in the framework are:
- Full lifecycle measurement including media planning, reporting and optimisation
- Continuous, real time, tagless data capture
- Comprehensive cross-platform measurement, covering TV and digital and not limited to video
- Full-funnel outputs and outcomes measurement
The framework requires any cross-media measurement solution to be:
- Privacy safe, with respect for the consumer and no risk of re-identification
- Fair, objective and neutral with metrics for comparability
- Trusted and transparent, enshrined through regular audits
- Able to measure both advertising and editorial content and context
As ISBA’s Richard Halton explains, the framework is intended, “to allow marketers to see the de-duplicated value of their media spend while sparing the consumer the pain of excess frequency along the way. And in doing so, to create a transparent, independent framework for audited measurement that the industry can trust, creating efficiency for marketers and underpinning the differential value of each different media.”
The WFA’s real-world technical proposal for a cross-media measurement solution meets the principles of transparency, neutrality and auditing outlined in the framework. It uses a Virtual ID (VID) along with differential privacy methods and provides a theoretical approach to bringing together data sets from different providers without using third-party cookies, and while complying with GDPR. The proposal was scrutinised through an international open comment and peer review exercise over the summer, and it has now been passed to national advertiser associations to see how it can be adapted to local market needs ahead of implementation.
The progress of ISBA’s Project Origin
In the UK, ISBA is testing and validating the WFA framework under the advertiser-backed programme Project Origin. Along with a range of advertisers, publishers and platforms, Project Origin is using the framework to create its own blueprint for cross-media measurement, and develop standards and governance for a UK implementation.
The first stage of Project Origin’s validation of the WFA framework is already complete. It included subjecting the VID solution to 10 weeks of in-depth scrutiny by independent audience measurement experts RSMB. The results of RSMB’s assessment can be found on the Project Origin website, but the executive summary states, “Overall, RSMB recommends that the VID model provides an elegant solution with a sensible trade-off between the likely accuracy in the prediction of cross-media duplications and the practicality of the process.”
Looking ahead to 2021, the next step for Project Origin is to develop a prototype for UK cross-media measurement, and it is planning a nine-month test, pilot and evaluation phase. This process will factor in key parts of RSMB’s assessment and also include and evaluate other measurement input and output components. With the ANA already validating the framework in the US, and other markets and organisations also examining the proposal, with a view to implementation on the back of work done in both the UK and US, 2021 is likely to be a year of rapid progress in cross-media measurement across the entire digital and TV advertising ecosystem.