Researchers question impact of currencies on cross-media planning

From Research Live

MALTA— The role of media currencies in the development — or not — of cross-media planning was under the spotlight at the Media Research Group conference in Malta yesterday.

Paul Goode (pictured) of ComScore (which lost out on the UKOM online currency contract to rival Nielsen last year) called the current situation “a mess”. He said there was little integration between the providers of currencies for TV, radio, print, online and outdoor, and that the joint industry committees (JICs) running the currencies too often prioritise consistency over improvement and innovation.

Unification of the various currencies “should be a core consideration of the media industry in the UK”, but there is no organisation to implement it. There is the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising’s TouchPoints survey of how multimedia fits into consumers’ lives – now in its third iteration – but Goode suggested this was an area that should be studied much more frequently than TouchPoints’ current rate of every couple of years.

Others, however, were more sanguine. David Brennan of TV marketing body Thinkbox pointed out that more cross-media planning than ever is now taking place, even without an “all-singing, all-dancing, perfect representation of what’s happening”.

Brennan had some sympathy for the media owners on the boards of JICs, saying that they would be rash to jeopardise consistency for something that is “still at the edges”. More beneficial than “tinkering” with the JICs, he suggested, might be to make sure that display and direct response advertising were measured consistently.

The panel were asked to debate the question of whether currencies are stifling cross-media campaign planning, and a consensus seemed to emerge that it is peoplerather than currencies who are at fault in this regard.

Belinda Beeftink, who manages TouchPoints at the IPA, said that one of effects of the survey has been to “expose the fact that although many agencies were saying they were fully integrated in their approach to planning, they weren’t. That is changing.”

Beeftink said that TouchPoints (an equivalent of which is soon to be launched in the US) should not be seen as offering “the meaning of life”. “It’s really part of the whole toolbox that’s available to agencies and media owners to work out what’s going on.” The key to it, she said, was that “it’s consumer-centric, it’s about how people live, what they do and how media fits into their lives. That’s where we need to be getting to.”

But David Fletcher of MEC MediaLab questioned the wisdom of this focus on people. Researchers should consider, he said, “whether or not clients are really interested in people or if they’re interested in selling stuff. We use definitions of people as a proxy for people who buy stuff”.

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