Quality auditors are key to unlocking digital TV

Isympathise with advertisers who try to keep up with the digital revolution – what with 200-plus channels, fragmenting audiences, new opportunities to target audiences more closely than ever before, time shift problems and interactive possibilities to consider. There is now so much more media.

My plea is that you take what little time you have and focus on your auditors.

They have an enormous influence on almost every area of the media business.

Although not invited to their meetings, I sit at the end where their work comes to rest, so I think I have a realistic view of it. Some of the work is excellent but some is one-dimensional, and this is what worries me.

You may well smell the whiff of self-interest here, and you would be right. My business has to be accountable. If advertising is shown to be effective then the investment will be repeated. So I need quality auditors, performing quality work.

But too many auditors are working the way they were five years ago, when TV was a simple two-channel choice. They seem oblivious to the multi-channel universe and the way viewing has changed.

They still persist with the simplistic view that a rating is a rating no matter what channel, environment and atmosphere it is delivered in.

Over the past year, TSMS has invested hundreds of thousands of pounds in research to prove this is not the case. Our TVSpan research is single source data that links real sales to real ad exposure. Based on BARB, it is live and collected everyday.

The key finding to consider is that product sales are dramatically affected by the look of the schedule, channel mix and programme environment.

The research shows that recent exposure to the ad and number of times it is seen is critical, as is concentrated exposure over a short period of time. The best way to drive sales is to air ads in peak-time during programmes with a high attention factor.

All this shows that taking impacts as an expression of exposure is too simplistic a measure for today’s world. This is why the auditor’s simple coverage, frequency analysis and reliance on norms is so dangerous. It is blunt and gives the wrong answers.

It also tends to drive advertisers towards “one size fits all” solutions.

If this digital TV world is to work, with funds being spent in the right place, then we need higher quality media auditing.

Courage is needed to step away from an outdated system. Meanwhile, new research should be employed to understand this TV environment and build better, more effective campaigns.

I am sorry to heap another thing onto the shoulders of already hard-pressed clients, but only they can demand this change.

Make sure you are receiving an in-depth audit that considers all aspects of the campaign and does not rely on a simple, one-dimensional score.

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