Digital Essays 2021: Our path towards holistic measurement, by MMS’ Bassam Rizk

By Bassam Rizk, head of data intelligence at MMS.

TV has transitioned from a broadcast-only medium to a multiplatform video market through the growth of streaming and connected platforms. Yet data silos across broadcast and digital still exist, and the future ecosystem is still in development. One thing is for sure: we are on the cusp of some of the most exciting opportunities for growth and innovation that our industry has seen in a very long time.

As we look towards the future, we can see addressable audiences that can be activated across the entire ecosystem; we see the need to lay the foundation for transparent media planning, campaign management and data buying. Finally, we need to create a system that aggregates data from multiple areas, enabling us to enhance our marketing campaigns’ effectiveness.

This journey is currently underway as the speed of our industry’s evolution is changing in real-time; it will undoubtedly require focus and collaboration to deliver. Globally, it would be fair to say that measuring campaigns across linear and digital channels has not been solved, since these are very different ecosystems. However, it is technically solvable and would require high levels of collaboration across key industry players.

Linear television distribution provides an uninterrupted and broadcast content stream, not relying on data bandwidth fluctuations and processing power; this means that linear TV is here to stay. So, to achieve accurate cross-channel measurement, we first need to understand that measuring the unduplicated reach and frequency of campaigns across different inventory pools is the end goal. Which brand would not want to plan, buy and evaluate campaigns in an integrated way?

As TV continues to engage ad dollars directly into a high-reach, premium, brand-safe environment, the digital ecosystem has several layers that advertisers must navigate to achieve the same goal. We believe it is imperative to make it easier to transact across different pools of video inventory — linear, VOD, OTT and digital. TV’s evolution is to integrate with our digital channels and move further down the funnel, making clients aware of added opportunities in TV before defaulting additional investment to the various sizeable digital video platforms. The end goal is to show that TV is not only an awareness driver but indeed a performance channel in its own right if used and measured correctly. Cross-channel attribution is only the start to what will soon evolve into sales-level ROI-based attribution. This will be done across our brands’ digital and physical sales channels through system and data integrations at a consumer identity level.

From a technical perspective, we need to develop processes and standards like ad-IDs across platforms and integrations between centralised systems that allow a layer of orchestration across multiple channels. Once completed, we would enable addressable audiences across channels and devices with end-to-end measurement. MMS is already partnering with platforms that can tie together the numerous technology and system integrations associated with each inventory pool. As a start, TV people meter data is coming to our region. With that come many opportunities that will benefit the regional advertising ecosystem. Primarily, we would set the groundwork to provide the ability to unify linear TV to digital advertising in a probabilistic method that would achieve unified reach at scale. Data from different platforms mapped together will require new industry standards. The future will require data-stitching and identity resolution between TV platforms, VOD services, customer databases and third-party datasets.

In addition, first-party customer relationship management (CRM) advertiser data will play a vital role in the cookieless future as data matching will occur with VOD publisher data. Utilising encryption will ensure customer data remains private, protected and fully anonymous while enabling marketers to measure the intersection between their target audience and media owner audiences. We will close the loop and understand true ROI across the entire advertising investment, across all sales channels, not just the digital ones.

The past decade has seen a shift in media buying and selling, moving away from broad demographic targeting to more defined audience segments based on interest, intent, CRM data and advanced data modelling. While probabilistic identity matching methodologies dominate the MENA region, deterministic audience measurement is certainly taking off as various marketing technologies mature. There remains to be a big focus on privacy, data protection, programmatic and automated marketing.

The main priority for the market at present has been measurement and data, as you can only manage what you measure. Our clients are looking to demonstrate value from media buys, which means attribution and outcomes measurement. TV can deliver on this requirement. Soon enough, addressable audiences will be available not only on VOD platforms but also on linear TV. For products like TV-to-digital attribution on MBC GROUP channels, clients can determine the uplift in digital visitation, registration and sales for their TV and VOD investments. Footfall attribution is a product that would allow us to understand how many VOD viewers ended up in our brands’ physical locations.

Advertiser-to-publisher CRM matching will continue to develop using a decentralised approach, ultimately leading to unmatched performance marketing and measurement. The future holds a lot of promise as we aim to solve the industry’s most significant technical challenges.