Real progress has been made in overcoming some of the toughest problems facing the research industry, but roadblocks undoubtedly remain, according to Scott McDonald, president/CEO of the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF).

Speaking at the ARF’s AUDIENCExSCIENCE conference, McDonald highlighted points of “noteworthy progress”, as well as “some areas that give me ongoing concern”, during his opening presentation. (For more details, read WARC’s in-depth report: ARF chief sees “tangible progress” in a chaotic marketing-research industry.)

Video consumption has seen positive shifts in terms of measurement, he asserted, be it linear, on-demand, ad-supported or subscription-based, and delivered through cable, satellite, or over the top.

“Measurement companies have gotten better at using projectable random samples and panels to calibrate and correct for the known biases in the more granular viewing data available from set-top boxes, smart TVs and streaming video providers,” said McDonald.

“There still are some blind spots. There still are some uncooperative sellers who refuse to support the transparency afforded by independent third-party measurement.” A clear upside: “There are fewer of them than there were at this time last year.”

A major hurdle that is still in place for researchers, however, involves the persistence of walled gardens that offer limited access to data – and can restrict the power of advertisers to achieve their goals.

“As in many areas in our field, the barriers are not so much technical as political and driven by parochial business concerns,” said McDonald.

“If these big, walled-garden players would, for the common good, support unified third-party measurement, the whole industry would benefit from much more comprehensive measurement of media and advertising exposures.”

Turning to ROI and attribution, he suggested that “various vendors and media sellers” have been willing to “integrate granular but non-random video consumption data with market outcome data.

“Companies like Meredith and Nielsen Catalina have led the way in applying similar integrative techniques to documenting the impact of print and digital advertising on product sales – with Meredith even offering a sales lift guarantee to its largest advertisers,” said McDonald.

“But the field is still riddled with problems of transparency – a black-box inheritance from the earlier generation of market-mix modelers.

The good news: “At ARF forums over the past year, some attribution modelers have begun to subject their equations to informed, critical discussion. This is good, solid scientific progress – accretive and accumulative, but solid and encouraging,” McDonald said.

Sourced from WARC