LONDON: Two of the UK's major marketing associations have together called for the media industry to demand and provide independently audited data to bring accountability to media markets both online and offline.
Launching their joint report, called A Matter of Fact, at a cross-industry event in London on Thursday, the IPA and ISBA urged buyers to press for visible methodologies and independent verification of audience figures.
"Data is the lifeblood of the industry," said report author Richard Marks, of consultancy Research The Media, who added that it impacts marketing at all stages.
But he observed that prior to the digital age, and the proliferation of online platforms, the media industry adhered to a Joint Industry Currency (JIC) model.
The JICWEBS system, Marks claimed, is an agreement that "collectively represents agencies, media owners, and advertisers. It commissions and maintains a transparent system, which is open for all to understand and use".
Furthermore, a pooled resource enhances the offering of both advertisers and media owners. Appraising effectiveness for marketers, he observed, is simpler "when the inputs of media exposure are consistent".
For media owners, a shared currency model would allow performance monitoring in the context of the market, thereby enhancing their ability to demonstrate relative value.
However, the report appreciates the "significant role" of proprietary data sets, while urging providers to "commit to the principles of industry standards to maintain confidence" in the data.
At its core, the paper calls for open standards, independent auditing, and for the industry to encourage engagement with the JIC model to enhance credibility.
Given the widely reported "duopoly" of Facebook and Google, who between 2012 and 2016 captured 64% of global adspend growth, and recent errors in the reporting of ad metrics, Marks argued that they ought to be more open about their methodologies.
The experience of both, he said, illustrated "the danger of marking one's own homework".
In response to the paper, Bob Wootton, formerly an ISBA director, applauded the announcement, but urged the authors to take the findings to the US, where the Google and Facebook are based, in order for the findings to gain traction globally.
Data sourced from the IPA, ISBA; additional content by WARC Staff