When you look at the shape of most media plans, they all look remarkably similar. This is largely because media choice is led by what data are most available. And by what data planners are most comfortable with.
But there is a fundamental change taking place with regard to 'media' data, in line with the changes taking place as a result of the new digital world. The sort of data we are most comfortable with as planners and strategists are gold standard media currencies. These are long established, committee led, peer-reviewed, stable (mostly), trusted sources. I'm talking BARB (TV), RAJAR (radio), NRS (print), and so on. You can also include
Whether they are accurate or not is another point. And to be honest it doesn't really matter that much. It's more important that they are stable, to allow trading to take place. When you lift the lid on some of these they are in fact creaking under the strain and almost quaint in the way they measure media. However, measuring media is a huge challenge and they are the best we've got (I wouldn't knock things like BARB, they are very professionally run).
However, the internet and mobile can offer a different type of data. Instead of measuring them via surveys, we are starting to see data emerge that is closer to a census, in other words just counting what happens. There has always been a discrepancy between web measurement surveys (ie Comscore, Nielsen) and server data. But these issues (around things like cookie deletion) are slowly being resolved so the two are starting to align. Comscore is now integrating the two with their web measurement and their mobile measurement is purely server based.
Of course the downside of moving from measuring the person to measuring the device is that you don't know much about the individual, or at least you have to make an educated guess.
The other problem with server data is that there is too much of it. It's bottom up, not top down. You get everything, when in fact you only want some simple metrics. And that is the stage where we are now. The data are there, but no-one has yet figured out a way to make sense of it. Interestingly, this also happened with cable TV in the
So we need to bring in some different skills to reduce this mass of data to something that a planner can use alongside the other media data they already know so well. Comparable metrics that allow a mobile app to be judged alongside a full page ad in The Times. Traditional research companies with skills in sampling and survey design might not have the ability to do this. On the other hand the tech guys don't understand what metrics are needed. Some hybrid of the two is going to be required. A sort of techy researcher - a genuine nerd.