WFA rolls out cross-media measurement solution

The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) has unveiled an advertiser-centric framework for cross-media measurement accompanied by a proposed solution, designed to give advertisers a much greater understanding of the reach and frequency of their advertising efforts. The proposal was developed in partnership with digital platforms, including Facebook and Google, and will now be tested by the UK and US, with ISBA and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) respectively leading local efforts.

The proposal leverages a virtual ID and differential privacy methods to preserve privacy while preventing double-counting of impressions across media. In delivering improved cross-media frequency control, consumers will also benefit by not being unintentionally targeted by the same ad across different media channels, potentially addressing one of the key motivators behind ad blocking. The proposal also acknowledges that measurement is a local business and requires considerable local governance alongside the need for some global components to drive consistency and scale. Any aspects of the proposal that require bespoke technology will be open sourced.

With the proposal, the WFA said the baton has been passed on to national advertiser associations, and ISBA’s cross-media measurement group, Origin. The ANA will now independently explore how the components in the proposal can be adapted to suit local stakeholder needs, ahead of implementation in their respective markets. Validation efforts will place particular care and focus on how TV data will be integrated with digital data within the proposal.

Both initiatives will focus on ensuring the priorities of advertisers are met while also taking an approach that reflects the needs of broadcasters as well as the changing digital media landscape. Several other markets and organisations are also looking closely at the components in the proposal, with a view to possible implementation on the back of the US and UK work.

Over the past 18 months, the WFA has worked with national advertiser associations to create the framework, which identifies advertisers’ cross-media measurement needs as well as the pragmatic principles that advertisers believe that all solutions should be bound by. This has involved cross-industry consultation with advertisers, agencies, broadcasters, measurement companies and platforms. The goal has been to create a catalyst for local development of new solutions.

Alongside the framework, the WFA is also publishing a real-world technical proposal for a cross-media measurement solution, which meets the principles outlined in the framework, including on transparency, neutrality and auditing.

This has been developed in partnership with digital platforms and shared and discussed extensively with the industry. It utilises a panel and census approach (via publisher logs) to give advertisers far greater understanding of the reach and frequency of their campaigns across TV and digital media, including both video and other formats.

This has been tested via an international open comment and peer review exercise earlier this summer, organised by the WFA and involving several hundreds of the industry’s most prominent measurement professionals. This has allowed the wider industry to fully scrutinise, challenge and change the proposal.

This approach has been supported by the whole WFA membership but the initiative has been steered by several prominent advertisers and advertiser associations, including ANA, ISBA, Union des Marques, OWM, Deutsche Telekom, Mars, Mastercard, Nestle, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, The Coca-Cola Company, Unilever and others. The Media Rating Council has also been involved in this work throughout.

CEO of WFA, Stephan Loerke, said advertisers have long struggled with poor quality data that does not allow them to properly assess how best to invest their ad budgets across multiple platforms and media. "This body of work provides a blueprint to build a cross-media measurement solution that responds to advertiser needs. The WFA is proud to have facilitated this work in partnership with key markets, platforms and broadcasters and looks forward to seeing it widely implemented across geographies," he added.

Kanishka Das, P&G's senior director, global media analytics and insights, said the industry needs complete, open, transparent and future-proofed cross media measurement to enable consumers to have a better viewing experience with less annoying repetition. This cross-media measurement will also enable advertisers to be confident that their media budgets are being invested effectively and efficiently, and media companies to be rewarded for delivering high levels of reach and engagement, Das said.

"This is mission-critical, the time is now, we know it won’t be easy, but there has never been a stronger plan, and we need everybody to join in to make it happen," Das added.

Meanwhile, Sarah Mansfield, VP global media at Unilever said the process of developing cross-media measurement solutions has been a long journey. The development of a solution is complex and requires careful planning, she said.

"There are many challenges that we face; many of these are not technical but instead breaking down barriers that have been established by decades of legacy ways of working. To solve this, we need to think and collaborate across boundaries. We have worked hard to establish a solid start with this framework and technical proposal, and we believe this provides a solid starting point. In each geography, a lot of work needs to be done to bring it to life in each country," Mansfield added.

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