Time to think beyond econometrics

Time to think beyond econometrics

The industry is still behind in its measurement capabilities, which means OOH is being underrepresented in advertisers’ media plans.

It’s said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But across the advertising landscape, some of the oldest forms of media have consistently challenged this rule, especially in the last decade.

The growth in digital advertising raised standards in certain areas of marketing, including data collection and targeting, and brands now expect more from the media they choose both creatively and strategically.

Traditional channels ‚ for example, out-of-home (OOH) and TV — have now mostly met the challenge. Through embracing advancements in technology, Connected TV and Digital OOH have transformed their traditional playbooks. These channels are now equipped with capabilities commonplace to digital channels and have become 21st century engagement powerhouses but also retain the essential creative magic that has kept them on the media plan for decades.

But while advances in technology, and data-driven insight have transformed the advertising industry into a highly sophisticated sector, the industry is still behind in its measurement capabilities.

Skewing heavily towards placing digital platforms as the standard, the current measurement norms of econometrics fail to fully recognise the power of other media. This means brands and media planners often end up undervaluing and underrepresenting certain channels in their plans.

Making the case for econometrics

Don’t get me wrong — econometrics is a fundamental part of media measurement, and as someone who works in the OOH space, I can say with confidence that strides have been made to improve it for this channel.

Route — the body responsible for providing an estimated measure of those exposed to OOH advertising within strict parameters in the UK — is constantly evolving its methodology to satisfy the delivery of more granular and contemporary data, which more realistically compare to the rapid nature of the data that digital channels deliver.

Moreover, through working directly with clients and econometrics agencies, we are able to even more accurately build a representation of the impact OOH activity has on the bottom line. One example of this is work Talon did with a fast food brand to gather granular data, which was then delivered to the econometrics agency. This meant the model could work better to demonstrate the positive impact offline channels have had to drive ROI for the fast food brand over the last few years.

Thinking beyond the model

Econometrics as a model offers an easy to digest breakdown of the effectiveness of certain media channels — hence why it has remained such a valued tool by the industry for so long. However, with such a standard practice for measurement across all media, this method fails to capture the intricacies and nuances delivered by different platforms.

For example, econometrics can’t pick up on things that move slowly or disentangle things that move together, which is a growing issue for OOH since it is a channel that is typically planned in two-week cycles alongside other media such as TV. This means it can be a struggle to isolate the effects and leads to lacklustre data being used to measure it.

This is a detriment to understanding the true effectiveness of such campaigns — TV and OOH generate great synergies and together return a strong return on investment – and the flaws in the model are leading to inaccurate results.

To generate a more accurate understanding of effectiveness, we need to think beyond the limits of econometrics and consider other metrics. This starts with educating the industry further on how to better process and harness data so that in the long term measurement is far more effective and impactful.

Challenges are experienced with ad creative too. OOH is a low dwell time media, so it’s crucial that creative is designed for the media and then captures attention. Econometrics understands the contribution creative plays in driving ROI — which is more significant in OOH — but it’s not something measured in traditional econometrics models. With this in mind, we should be measuring creative effectiveness before it goes on the billboard and marry up emotional response to brand awareness to ensure we can understand the impact of creative on those longer term metrics.

We know that it is essential to have a measurement framework in place that accounts for the numerous touchpoints consumers engage with today. This should be complementary to econometrics models that are already in place, and needs to look beyond what econometrics is capable of measuring.

We aren’t advocating for a complete rejection of the econometrics model. It remains a highly valued tool. Yet, in order to best make use of all channels, a brand or media planner must be willing to use the econometrics model as a foundation to be built upon, rather than a holistic representation of the entire media landscape.

Emily Alcorn is head of effectiveness at Talon

Adwanted UK is the trusted delivery partner for three essential services which deliver accountability, standardisation, and audience data for the out-of-home industry. Playout is Outsmart’s new system to centralise and standardise playout reporting data across all outdoor media owners in the UK. SPACE is the industry’s comprehensive inventory database delivered through a collaboration between IPAO and Outsmart. The RouteAPI is a SaaS solution which delivers the ooh industry’s audience data quickly and simply into clients’ systems. Contact us for more information on SPACE, J-ET, Audiotrack or our data engines.

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