Google is funding a multi-million-pound planning tool to help brands understand consumer behaviour across TV and online media.
The internet giant is working with research firm Kantar to build its first panel that will measure TV and online media habits from a single source.
Kantar will recruit a 3,000-strong panel, representative of the UK population, by the end of this year, with data and measurement analysis offered to the industry by 2012.
The search for a common online currency has been dogged by issues, such as delays to adding video or ad network data. This has dented the industry’s confidence and, as a result, many planners still use a variety of planning tools and measurements, depending on client needs. UKOM is undergoing a strategic review and is moving to update the service to the industry’s needs, but it may have to do it faster if it’s to live up to expectations.
The aim is to provide brands with a planning tool where they can benchmark the reach and footprint of a campaign that would run across TV and online. It aims to help them understand how leveraging spend between TV and the web can impact consumer interaction through a single source, rather than by fusing together two sets of data.
It’s Google’s latest efforts to help brands track the impact of cross-media consumer behaviour and drive brand spend, in particular from the FMCG sector. Internet firms including Google and Yahoo have been actively courting brands through partly or fully funded programmes that show how digital activity across their networks is impacting sales.
Earlier this year, new media age reported how Cadbury, which used the Google-backed programme GfK Media Efficiency Panel for its Dairy Milk brand, as well as Yahoo and Nectar’s joint initiative Consumer Connect for Creme Egg, generated £3 for every £1 spent on digital advertising (nma 13 January 2011).
The creation of a single-source TV and online panel for Google is the next step in advancing its cross-media goals. Historically, it has been difficult for brands to see the impact of digital on TV, and visa versa. It’s hoped that this initiative will aid this understanding and increase spend across media.
Some commentators have argued that existing online currencies, such as click-through rate and CPM, the separation of panel and census data, and disparity between existing auditors ABCE and UKOM have stifled cross-media campaign planning.
The Kantar partnership will see Google provide technical expertise and data processing, while Kantar will manage the panel recruitment process, using face-to-face random location sampling methodology.
Other methodologies, such as online access, could result in a higher than average online representation, according to Jonny Protheroe, research manager at Google UK. He explained that while other recent efforts to let brands directly compare web viewing to TV had been a good start, “fusion data” is not as accurate as single-source data.
“For some of the things we want to be able to investigate, it’s necessary to have single source,” he said. “A fusion between BARB and UKOM gives interesting data on people across those panels, but if you want to look at the footprint of a campaign across TV and online, it’s limited. With single-source data, however, you know an individual who’s been exposed to a campaign across both TV and online, and it produces more credible results.”
Protheroe added, “We get asked a lot by media agencies how online works with other media, and it’s always difficult to address. The best way is to have TV and online – to be able to understand media behaviours – is from a single source. And we’re in a position to kickstart this across the industry.”
In May, the UK Online Measurement Company (UKOM) and Nielsen launched the first industry-backed online video metric, allowing brands to directly compare web viewing with TV for the first time.
The Nielsen VideoCensus aims to boost online video budgets by being directly comparable to the long-established TV planning tool BARB. It uses a hybrid online audience panel and technology-based methodology to show how web users engage with online video content, helping advertisers, agencies and publishers accurately measure online video audiences (nma 19 May 2011).
Google said it has discussed its initiative with all of the UK’s major trade bodies involved in media measurement including the IPA, the IAB, ISBA, BARB and UKOM. It will look at how its initiative will complement others, such as the IPA’s Touchpoints. There’s a possibility that data from Google’s panel will feed into the IPA’s Touchpoints study, said Protheroe.
“We’ve had discussions with these for quite a while to try to let people know what we’re doing and why. It’s intended to be complementary to all the other services out there,” he said.
The next step is to open up dialogue with media agencies to find out what’s most useful for them and how to best accommodate their needs.
Guy Phillipson, CEO of the IAB, said in a Google statement, “Between them, TV and online command 50% of total media spend in the UK. The IAB always welcomes new efforts to understand how consumers are using the internet and how online channels work in conjunction with other media. We look forward to seeing the results of this ambitious new initiative.”
Google already has a similar panel in Germany, where it works with research firm GfK. According to GfK consultant Olav Lijnbach, the 5,000-strong panel, which has been in operation for around 18 months, was “the world’s first passive single-source panel which registers not only TV and online behavior but also purchases”.