Nick Burfitt, Global Director & MD APAC of Kantar Media, feels that industry third party measurement is a must for advertisers and agencies to have trust in the data. He firmly believes that no one should grade their own homework. We caught up with him to get his thoughts on the changing viewing habits, the importance of neutral measurement, among other things. Excerpts below:
A lot of video content is now happening through channels other than traditional TV. What kind of challenges does this throw up for a brand?
There is no doubt that viewing of video content is fragmenting but it is not happening as fast as we may think. A large proportion of video content, probably more than 90%, is still viewed in homes on large TV sets. It is important not to lose sight of that fact. Brands and marketers must accept that a lot of video advertising is still viewed on what might be called traditional TV. The fact that a large amount of money is spent on traditional TV advertising, $200 billion (Rs. 20,000 crore) business annually, tells us a different story.
Having said this, I do not think that anyone can argue that the traditional way of viewing content is changing. The challenge that this brings for advertisers and broadcasters is how to decide the scale of this change and this is a broadcast challenge. A phrase I have often heard, and used myself, is “If you cannot measure it, you cannot monetize it”. This ability for platforms, content owners or broadcasters to measure where viewing is taking place, what is the scale of the viewing, the extent, the profile, etc. is important. Linking this to traditional viewing occasions so that you do not measure TV or digital campaigns in isolation is also a must.
The challenge for marketers is to measure this fragmented viewing in an integrated way, what it tells them about the speed of change and which platforms are doing better than others.
How is Kantar approaching the challenge of measuring viewing in an integrated manner?
We are doing this in two or three ways. One is that as we are moving forward with our audience measurement services. We are ensuring that we have the capability and the tools and technologies that allow us to provide these integrated measurement services. We have way more data scientists working with us today than ever because we have to integrate all these different data sets. We are also looking at ways that measurement data can be integrated with other types of data, for example, purchase data which we are doing in a couple of markets.
The OTT market is growing but it is also very fragmented. How does the growth of OTT impact measurement agencies?
Typically, OTT players do not want to engage in measurement or rating services. So, a Netflix will not want its service to be in a ratings service. They have a lot of data; they know a lot about what people are doing on their platform that is not currently part of any measurement service around the world. Maybe this is partly because they do not sell advertising and are subscription-based.
For an industry currency to exist, it needs to try and measure as many players as possible but it does require collaboration. This will be another difference for measurement companies going forward. Traditionally, companies like ours would not need any particular collaboration. However, to create a holistic measurement system, we need collaboration.
If OTT players want to be in the same pitch as existing broadcasters, then it is incumbent upon them to be part of a measurement service.
And if they do not do this, you think they will lose out in the long run?
It is difficult to say. They will know a great deal about what is happening on their platform. Netflix published an article about what people are doing on their platform but there is no context to it. It is not clear whether Netflix is additive to existing TV viewing or whether it is cannibalizing existing TV viewing and that is the challenge for marketers and brands.
We recently saw questions raised in India about the TV measurement agency. In a system where you have people with different opinions and viewpoints, how does a measurement agency maintain its neutrality?
I will not comment specifically on this situation but our general philosophy is that the way industry committees or industry measurement agencies work, to a degree they require a certain level of compromise because you have the people competing with each other outside of the committee. So, they need to remove their competitive hat and put on their collaborative hat when they walk into the committee room. As a general principle, for industry measurement services to exist and to maintain their credibility and their relevance, they need to operate in a spirit of transparency and openness. Currencies can only exist if they are trusted.