Cross-Screen Media – CIMM’s CEO Jane Clarke On The Building Blocks of Cross-Media Measurement

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Jane Clarke was featured on Cross Screen Media’s ScreenBytes Executive Interviews.

Jane Clarke, CIMM’s (Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement) CEO and Managing Director, joins Cross Screen Media CEO Michael Beach to shares her thoughts on the building blocks of cross-media measurement in our latest ScreenBytes Executive Interview. Watch the interview here and read the full transcript below!

Michael Beach: Jane, thank you for joining us today.

Jane Clarke: Well, thanks for having me. It sounds like fun.

MB: We’ll start off with an ice breaker that we ask all of our guests. What was your first job and what lessons did you take away from it that you applied to your career?

JC: I tend to skip over the teenage jobs, being a waitress or a camp counselor. But you actually do learn an awful lot there about the importance of showing up and showing up on time and treating other people with respect. I tend to think about my first job in the field was an internship at National Geographic in Washington; it was terrific. It was the last semester of my senior year and I got to do the Communications Research Department internship.

I think what I really learned was the power of speaking truth to power and how you do that. That research and measurement can be used to bring a perspective that gets beyond a lot of decision-making in corporations that’s not based on data, or just based on politics/positions. It was really revelatory to me that people could use data and even young people could actually impact big decisions and tell that to senior management.

MB: Now looking more at the measurement space, how did you get your start in that area?

JC: That job in the Communications Research Department was actually a measurement job, and ever since then, all my jobs have been just through the referrals from people that I met in that first job. It really all started just with an internship, amazingly as it may seem. Then I went from there to the Sesame Workshop (formerly Children’s TV Workshop), and then I spent 27 years at Time Warner in many different divisions doing research across print, TV, and music. Then I came to CIMM about 10-11 years ago.

MB: Excellent, it’s very rare to hear an internship leading to a direct line where you are today. Congratulations on that. Before jumping any deeper, would you mind giving our audience a little background on CIMM and what its mission is?

JC: CIMM is the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement, and it was formed about 11-12 years ago by the networks along with the media buying agencies and a handful of large advertisers. And at the time, I think Alan Wurtzel at NBC was in the midst of negotiating a Nielsen contract and they were also starting to look at this new world of set-top box data. They kept thinking, “Oh, we could form a new group to investigate creating new currencies out of set-top box data and then we can get rid of my Nielsen contract for the next time around.”

Well, that didn’t exactly happen. When they hired me in January of 2010, I was the first managing director. I knew right away that they didn’t have enough money to harm Nielsen in any way considerably. However, it was still worth it to have a group of people in the industry that looked at innovation and how we could push all of the vendors to do the kind of innovation that the end-users, the buyers, and sellers of media, all needed.

That’s always been the role that CIMM’s played, even though we’re now a nonprofit. In the beginning, we were an LLC and then we were acquired by the ARF a couple of years ago and became a nonprofit. We have the same mission, which is to bring more granular measurement into television and to use that as part of solutions for cross-media measurement. When we think of cross-media measurement, we mostly think of it from the point of view of video. For instance, how can you completely measure the video that might start on linear television, then also have different iterations in all the new forms of TV that have emerged from VOD, streaming, and addressable TV, and then all the different ways that a marketer can buy on TV today and how that content is created across all these platforms.

MB: Recently, you hosted your 10th Annual Summit – congrats on that. I was impressed with the overall video quality and guests. Pulling off a virtual summit like that is an amazing accomplishment. What were a few big takeaways?

JC: We had to actually get a little production team to help us. We couldn’t do it all by ourselves, because we’re a very small operation. I would say that the big takeaway was that the industry has finally been able to clarify that there are really four building blocks to get to cross-media measurement. The first one is that you need granular TV data from smart TVs and set-top boxes, and it’s better if you can combine those data sets to get as many nationally representative granular data sets as possible.

The second thing that you need is you need that on the digital side. All the app and the site data, the CTV, OTT data. That is not in any form of a standardized data set right now. Every network has its own approach to measuring that and its own log file data, similar to Google and Facebook, they’re all walled gardens when it comes to their own data in the apps that they are all launching more and more of every day.

The third area is that you need a panel because there are biases and skews and missing data in those big datasets, both digital and TV sets. You need that cross-platform panel or some linking of a digital and a television panel in order to make those adjustments and to also understand who’s in front of the television screen. The big problem with all this machine data is that you only know that the machine was on, but you don’t know how many people or who was in front of it. You need a panel to do all of those things, but it’s a changing role for the panel.

The last piece of all that is ID resolution and that’s really critical to piecing the other three building blocks together. You need a solution for how you can connect all the devices and the people in a particular household to match to other household datasets. That then this whole thing can be used for planning, targeting, audience targeting, creating segments, activating against those segments, optimization, in flight, and then measurement and attribution on the backend. It’s really almost an entirely new TV data platform that needs to be created to completely get to cross-media measurement.

MB: I love the idea of big data and the panel combined beyond who’s in front of the TV. What are some core use cases for, or questions that the panel would answer with the big dataset combined?

JC: One of the issues with the big datasets is that they don’t cover the over-the-air audience, and there are still some markets where people don’t have pay TV and they don’t have smart TVs. So, it can be maybe only 10% nationally, but there are some markets that can be a lot larger than that, up into the high teens and 20s where people are still getting their TV over the air. These datasets sometimes are called data exhaust, or they come off of the set-top boxes and off of the smart TVs sometimes for other reasons than measurement, but they don’t cover homes that aren’t hooked up to the internet or hooked up to a cable where you can get a return path of the data.

MB: Where are we at overall from a measurement point of view today?

JC: Progress is being made in all of those four building blocks but it hasn’t really been consistently set up in the industry. There’s still inconsistency related to the objectives and what we all have to do. As a result, everybody’s doing their own thing. You have all the vendors trying to come up with solutions that fit, usually, into their prior approach to doing things. Nielsen starts out with one point of view from the panel. They start bringing in big data and now they’re going to launch Nielsen ONE and they’re trying to put together all these pieces, but they’re missing the consistent digital data.

The networks didn’t install the Nielsen SDK and all their apps. So, Nielsen has a hole on the digital side and that’s a very interesting dynamic, because the networks, they have now become data owners, don’t want to just give their data to Nielsen and then, have Nielsen turn it around and charge them for putting it together with everybody else’s data. That’s a very interesting dynamic.

Then, what happens is you have all the networks themselves, creating their own view of what deduplicated reach looks like across their properties. They’re taking their Nielsen linear TV data and they’re adding it to their app data, to VOD, to addressable, whatever else they’re selling. They can put that together themselves into an estimate of deduplicated reach for the marketers to buy advertising. But, then NBCU is doing it in a different way from ViacomCBS and from Warner Media so, you don’t have a holistic end-to-end view for the buyers.

Basically, everybody’s coming at it from their own point of view and even marketers, in the last year, got involved. The World Federation of Advertisers launched an initiative under their media committee to come up with a framework, a global framework, and a technical blueprint for cross-media measurement that also involves bringing in data from Google and Facebook because that’s really important to the marketers. How can they deduplicate reach between Google, Facebook, and the whole TV video ecosystem?

Everybody’s coming at it from their point of view. I think they all agree on the four building blocks, but they’re working on different pieces of them in different ways. And when it comes to the panel, and we have the Nielsen panel, we have a couple of other smaller panels in the industry that people are trying to launch. When it comes to ID resolution, there are so many people working on different forms of ID resolution with everything changing, with the deprecation of the cookie and the IDFA.

There are people working on how do you keep identity on the open web? How do you have authenticated users that are logged in, on Google, Facebook, and other platforms while managing your own identity? How do you combine that with CTV? How do you do data matching with other partners? There’s an awful lot of activity in the ID resolution space right now.

MB: That seems like another area that there’s fragmentation. It seems like the last couple of years has gotten more fragmented, not less so.

JC: CTV is definitely added to the fragmentation. It’s all good for us as consumers that now we can enjoy a lot more content whenever we want to, but it’s certainly added more complexity to the measurement area.

MB: Regarding that, obviously, the pandemic has had a huge shift in user consumption of video. How has that impacted measurement specifically?

JC: We’ve all seen the data on the streaming revolution just happened in the last nine months, even though it had been going in fits and starts for a few years before that. But we’re all of a sudden on the other side of that. So, there’s no going back and from a measurement point of view. It’s highlighted the fact that we don’t have a standardized way to get all that data back so, there isn’t a good view of that for the marketers.

There have also been some issues with panels, in COVID, when some of the panel monitoring systems and installation systems haven’t been able to pay visits to the home, members have had to stay in longer, or maybe they’ve lost members of the panel. There have been issues just maintaining quality in panels and not just the Nielsen panel.

Then there are some new panels trying to launch, and that’s been a little challenging to get the money to launch and to get cooperation from consumers and everything. The good news about COVID has been that it’s made marketers really push for efficiency and to know where every dollar is being spent. The pressure is on to really improve the measurement. I think that has actually led to a lot of initiatives in the last year, more so than probably would have happened if we weren’t all sitting at home, having Zoom calls all day long, and wanting to tell something to the marketers that would solve their problem of cross-media measurement.

I think it’s a cliche to say that COVID has accelerated the digital revolution by about five years, but it’s really true.

MB: On that, are you seeing the change being driven by buyers or sellers under those conditions?

JC: What’s happened is that the buyers are just putting more pressure on the sellers. It started at the beginning of COVID when, all of a sudden, the market has just started pulling back all their advertising because they weren’t sure about what was going to happen and they didn’t want their ads out there in questionable content and very negative news. So, there was kind of an immediate pullback and a re-questioning of everything.Jane Clark Quote

That forced marketers to push forward their agenda even more; that they’ve always been asking for holistic end-to-end measurement. “Well, if you’re going to sell me a cross-platform package, tell me what’s my deduplicated reach across that whole package. I need to know if I’m reaching new people.” With more people home watching more television during the day and everything, marketers are increasingly sensitive about over frequency and that, especially on television, they think it’s a really annoying customer experience or viewer experience to see the same ad over and over and over again. It doesn’t help the marketer at all.

There’s been a real push to help them to get this unified end-to-end view across all the platforms so that they can manage frequency and really understand the impact of which platforms are working for them.

MB: I would’ve thought that with everyone being stuck at home that sports, when it returned, would have been off the charts from a viewership standpoint. But obviously, we’ve seen time spent with video go up, while sports viewership has gone down significantly. It’s gone down so much that it’s created an interesting challenge for marketers because these mass reach opportunities just aren’t there like they were before.

JC: Yeah, I’m personally not completely sure that that whole story has been told yet because I think some people were watching the Super Bowl on other platforms and it didn’t get fully counted in those numbers that go out. There are a lot of options and there’s a lot of streaming. I mean, that’s what it does; it gives people more options to watch more things.

The marketers have to deal with a world that’s both got some opportunities for mass reach and opportunities for targeting and for finding audiences wherever they are and targeting the messages that way. I think TV is in the middle of a revolution of bringing some of the digital techniques, not in the same way that they were applied in digital, but just starting with the idea that you don’t always have to link your TV around a particular kind of content. There might be reasons to do that both from a branding point of view, as well as from a mass reach point of view.

You can also find audiences that you’re looking for in a lot of different places that might seem unexpected to you. I think marketers are starting to look at this in different ways and the way they use television in their media plan is changing.

MB: Excellent. One area I want to get your take on is at Cross Screen Media our core focus is local and that seems to add another level of fragmentation to all of this. We’ve got customers that when they’re using set-top box data, certain markets they’ve got, are good for their solution or not. Obviously, it seems like this creates a challenge for panels because of that fragmentation of markets. How should local buyers and sellers be approaching this challenge?

JC: I actually think it’s a terrific time in local media for television and addressable television as well because it was always the problem before. The Nielsen local panel has not been accredited for quite a while, because it was always a challenge to get 400 people in any market or just a meter in certain markets that didn’t even have one. There have been so many challenges with how to do panels cost-efficiently in 210 markets across the country.

The huge improvement now with set-top boxes and smart TV data is you’re able to combine those data sets and get not only nationally representative data sets, but actually representative data sets that are pretty good in almost every market across the country; that’s a huge benefit. Comscore builds their TV measurement product starting in the local markets then building it up to national. I think they have a huge focus on local market TV measurement.

The addressability that’s happened has been going on for 20 years in cable and satellite, where you’re able to do zone addressable or ZIP code addressable, ZIP+4, and even down to household addressable. But people haven’t really always had the creativity to do that. You’ve been able to do that kind of addressability technically in local markets for a long time. Now, that improvement is finally coming to national. Local is really leading in the addressable space.

I think there’s a lot of encouragement for local TV measurement. I think they’ve been grateful for the release of the set-top box and the smart TV data because it’s really improved their measurement. They used to see, when Nielsen would show the 10:00 news, that there was no audience; zero. They would have these zero cells, they called them and everybody knew there was somebody there, but they could never show it until they had the set-top box data. So, I think that’s been huge.

MB: A lot of inventory and cable everywhere where you just had your two asterisks on the price. So, a bit of a big improvement. One big picture question, in two parts, what’s the single biggest change you’ve seen maybe in the last five to 10 years? And then looking forward, what’s the one item that you’re most excited about?

JC: It’s kind of related. The fact that the TV networks are becoming data owners is just a huge shift in perspective and that it really changes the whole dynamic of how you do measurement and what’s the role of third-party measurement firms in an era when everybody owns their own data. There was a funny story when Google was a member of CIMM and had first joined, we brought them to a meeting and they wanted to talk about how great it is to have first-party data. And all the TV networks were looking at them like, “Well, what do you mean? Don’t you want a third-party research vendor to help to show how you compare against your competitors?” They said, “No. No, we really don’t want that. We have our own data ecosystem and we like to show the marketers how we can help them to use their data combined with our data. We can place their audience, find their audiences all across our platform. Then we can give them attribution and show them the impact of what they did.”

The networks were just looking at them like aliens had just landed on Earth or something. That was about five years ago, and now they are all data owners and they completely get it. They don’t want to just give up that data to a third party. They want to learn how to use that in the best way possible for them and for their marketing partners.

On the other hand, what then becomes frustrating, as I mentioned before, is when the buyers don’t have a holistic end-to-end view and they’re getting different data from everybody that’s not standardized. So, I think that they are finally realizing, now that they’ve gotten over all the euphoria, that they’re a data owner. I think they’ve also realized that collaborating with other networks in a TV premium video ecosystem makes a lot of sense for all of them because even Google and Facebook look at the TV ecosystem as if it’s all one ecosystem but it doesn’t really act like one. There are so many differences, local and national and different by continent, sports, and genre.

There are so many, in syndication, and VOD… There are so many different corners of the TV video ecosystem. I think they’re starting to see that there’s benefit in working together and not just showing what you can do to the marketers, but showing how that also fits together with your whole ecosystem.

MB: Yeah, I’m fascinated. These distribution deals between streaming hardware providers and networks and the different elements that are part of that have been fascinating. The data and where you can sell. That’s obviously such a huge part of everyone’s future shown up in these deals.

JC: Once you’re a data owner, and have data and content and then you also have a consumer relationship that’s a big change for the networks. They’re direct-to-consumer now and they have subscriber relationships now. It’s a whole new mindset for them to think about customer loyalty and churn while figuring out how to maintain that relationship and protect the data while using it in a way that works for everybody.

MB: Excellent. We’ll get you out of here on one last question we ask all of our guests, we’re starting a book club here. If you could get your whole team to read one book right now, what would it be and why?

JC: Well, one of our speakers at the summit actually, that last closing fireside chat was one of my favorite guys, Rishad Tobaccowala, who had been an advisor at Publicis Groupe for many years, and now he’s kind of a more senior advisor, retired, semi-retired and he’s an author. And his book that he put out last year is Restoring the Soul of Business: Staying Human in the Age of Data. I think it’s great. He also has a fantastic blog called The Future Does Not Fit in the Containers of the Past and I highly recommend that to everyone.

MB: That is actually a repeat recommendation for us on the podcast. And actually, I’m just wrapping it up right now. It’s an excellent book. Well, thank you very much. I know our community’s going to love the conversation. What’s the best way for people to get in touch with you or find you on the internet?

JC: There’s a lot of good stuff on our website, We put all our reports up there after the members have had a chance to benefit from them for our month or two, and then we make everything public, or they can also just reach out to me on LinkedIn too.

MB: Excellent. Well, thank you. I appreciate your time.

JC: Thank you.

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