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Starcom's Desmond: Media Models Need To Change, Future Is Multiscreen Use

June 10, 2013

By Steve McClellan

For years traditional media research has measured consumer usage of individual channels. That’s no longer good enough, says Starcom MediaVest Group CEO Laura Desmond. Media consumption in the future will be about simultaneous usage of multiple screens by consumers both at home and almost everywhere they go. 

Media research must address that usage and inform the industry about how consumers utilize multiple screens and channels and what motivates them to do so, she noted, at the Advertising Research Foundation conference on Monday.

Media research models need to “radically change,” Desmond said. In the future, she added, researchers have to focus on “the how and the why” of what she defined as the “era of convergence,” in which consumers quickly migrate from one channel to the next or use channels or screens simultaneously.  

Desmond called on the industry to “accelerate new forms of partnerships” and collaboration. The media landscape is so complex today that no single company can successfully measure it all. “Collaboration is key,” she said as a PowerPoint slide flashed above her, when she presented a dozen companies with which SMG has some form of research alliance. Those companies include Google, Nielsen, ShareThis, Comscore, Twitter and Nielsen, to name a few.

Desmond highlighted several of the partnerships, including one with ShareThis, which has developed a metric called the Social Quality Index that calculates engagement levels of audiences by evaluating data such as outbound shares, inbound click-back traffic and page views. Desmond said the SQI has become a “standard part of the evaluation” that SMG applies to network and cable TV outlets as well as publisher content. What the SQI gets to, she said, “is the impact of paid and the conversation they create.”

“We need to invest in new measurement techniques for brands,” Desmond said. For Allstate, SMG took a new approach to targeting renters in order to help the client improve KPI metrics within that segment. SMG created a campaign that combined addressability provided by Dish and DirecTV with Experian and Epsilon consumer marketing data. The result was "three to five times brand growth,” Desmond said.

Future research has to consistently show the impact that channels have on each other. “It’s not about either-or but and-and,” she said.

Also, in the world of convergence, “the market experiences we create” in turn create new data and insights, Desmond said. She cited the Nike Fuel Band, which helps the company to “better target and communicate with consumers,” as an example.

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