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Media buzzwords: the top 10 countdown

Media buzzwords: the top 10 countdown

Research The Media’s Richard Marks gets behind the Newsline turntables to count down the chart movers and shakers in the UK’s current top ten media buzzwords

We are now well into the awards season. The BAFTAs and Grammies are behind us, the Oscars and Brits lie ahead and the season peaks of course with the Mediatel Media Research Awards on 28th February.

So I thought I would weigh in with my own awards: The Top 10 current media buzzwords, compiled after a year of organising and attending conferences, hosting podcasts, judging awards, reading articles and other general work avoidance activity.

Rather than having individual categories, as a music fan I feel more comfortable doing this in the form of a chart: a top 10 countdown.

Older readers may want to play Alan ‘Fluff’ Freeman’s Pick Of The Pops music whilst reading to get the full effect. Younger readers may want to think of it as a Buzzfeed listicle.

Ten words and phrases essential to include in any current job application, keynote or LinkedIn ‘article’:

10. Addressable (down 3 places)

A former Number One, addressable has been hanging around the charts longer than Bohemian Rhapsody. Like Justin Timberlake, it doesn’t quite have the allure it once had, particularly with the growing realisation that actually ‘wastage is good’ for many brands. Addressable is not the future anymore, but it is a part of the future – a mixed diet is important. Targeting is great, but media plans also need some roughage.

See also: advanced advertising.

9. Hybrid (down 1)

A particular favourite of the audience measurement industry, ‘hybrid’ has now replaced single source as the go-to method for cross-platform measurement. BARB’s Dovetail initiative goes live in April combining panel data with broadcaster server data, arguably marking hybrid’s coming of age.

Do say: That is an elegant and robust hybrid measurement system.

Don’t say: It all looks a bit of a Frankenstein’s monster to me.

8. Programmatic (down 4)

The staple of every adtech conference over the last few years, this reached the dizzy heights of number one in the charts in 2015, way before anyone understood what it actually meant and the jury is still out on how many people really do even now. Effectively this is the media industry equivalent of the robots inheriting the earth. Kraftwerk barely have to turn up to their own concerts any more; will media planners go the same way?

See also: automated trading, Real Time Bidding, brand safety, AI/Machine learning.

7. ROI (up 1)

The Cliff Richard of media acronyms, it’s the only media catchphrase to be a top ten hit in five different decades. The ROI debate is currently focused on short term versus long term effects, but we are still no closer to agreeing how ‘engagement’ should be measured in the first place. Meanwhile ‘Half of the money I spend on advertising is wasted, the trouble is I don’t know which half’ is the media industry’s equivalent of the sample from James Brown’s funky drummer, given the frequency it is used in presentations. I am surprised the audience don’t start singing along.

6. Viewability (down 4)

In 2015 a major breakthrough was made in online advertising, when the startling conclusion was reached that in order for advertising to be effective, people needed to actually see the advert: a controversial turning point that was the internet’s equivalent of Bob Dylan going electric.

Viewability is still hanging around the top ten as rumblings are starting to be heard from the under-fire online lobby around the viewability of broadcast television in terms of eyes on screen, with studies both recent and imminent focused on the impact of multi-screening.

5. Voice Assistants (down 2)

A revolution in how we access content? You can now play BBC 6 Music without pressing a button, time an egg and erm, well, that’s about it for the time being until the Internet Of Things does or doesn’t kick in. Fun for the kids to play with though! The focus has been very much on smart speakers but embedding voice assistants into separate devices and software is more likely to be the future. Apparently, by law all presentations on voice assistants must include a reference to Hal in 2001.

See also: Frictionless Future.

4. RVOD (up 6)

Acronyms featuring VOD are as ubiquitous as Ed Sheeran: SVOD, BVOD, AVOD, TVOD and just last month I stumbled upon PVOD. No credible presentation in 2018 is complete without reference to some form of VOD.

Top tip: Create your own VOD related acronym. See how many meetings you can get through as people wisely nod their head about RVOD opportunities before someone finally works up the nerve to ask you what it means. Yes, I did make up RVOD for this list, but can we really be sure it doesn’t exist somewhere in the media ecosystem?

3. Accountability (down 2)

Last year’s number one, propelled to the top of the charts by Marc Pritchard’s call to action and the IPA /ISBA Matter Of Fact initiative. The need for transparency and accountability in media measurement has become a highly popular tune, with even the social media giants starting to sing along with the chorus, even if they still tend to mumble during the verses.

See also: Brand Safety.

2. GDPR (new entry)

Not the name of the former East Germany, but the European Union’s new General Data Protection Regulation. Straight in at number two, it may well prove to be a one hit wonder. The suspicion remains that GDPR will be 2018’s answer to the Millennium Bug. Much as expensive IT consultants were required in 1999 to stop planes falling out of the sky, legal firms are clearly seeing the benefits of terrifying companies with the implications of getting e-privacy wrong.

Do say: Are we sure we are ready for May 25th?

Don’t say: What’s the point – aren’t we leaving the EU anyway?

1. Blockchain (new entry)

Our second new entry debuts at number one, the clear successor to programmatic’s crown as the word who’s frequency of use is in inverse proportion to those actually understanding it. If you squint at the blockchain explanations long enough you can get a vague impression of what ‘distributed ledgers’ means. Just as the original Internet was set up across different sites to be able to survive a nuclear war, so blockchain is distributed to protect against the 21st Century equivalent: fraud and Russian hacking

Do say: It will revolutionise our industry in ways we can’t yet fully comprehend.

Don’t say: Yeah, I saw them with Ian Dury at the Roundhouse in 1978.

Bubbling under the top ten:

Personalised experiences

Augmented Reality

Social Video

Where are they now?

Mobile first

Virtual Reality

Screen Syncing


Social TV

Do let me know any words that should be considered for our 2019 countdown. In the meantime I am off to consult on the construction of a GDPR-compliant programmatic system for addressable AVOD, which will use blockchain and machine learning to deliver viewable and accountable ROI.

Richard Marks is director of Research The Media

KevinSugrue, Research Director, UM International, on 20 Mar 2018
“Surely RVOD = Retargeted ads served to Video On Demand?”

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