This post is by Angela Canin, Senior Manager Development and Editor Research World at ESOMAR.

In researching this theme for the ESOMAR Summer Academy Seminar (1-4 June in Amsterdam) it's become apparent just how complex audiences have become. The implications for all stakeholders is immense and the shift in how, when, where and what to communicate has shifted completely in under a decade.

According to Ansgar Hoelscher, VP marketing intelligence & innovation at Beiersdorf "The old broadcasting paradigm is over. We have to establish a one-to-one connection with consumers and engage in dialogue. That means having something interesting and relevant for the other person – and that's not always the product itself. Relevant content is the name of the game. Relevant means interesting, exciting and useful for the consumer. It's the only way to have good one-to-one dialogue."

He is not alone, Dr Steven Althaus, global director of brand management and marketing services at BMW, says communications used to be like ten-pin bowling: you aimed your message, fired, bowled over as much of your target as possible and missed some from the fringes. Now, he says, it's more like a game of pinball, with a constant flapping of paddles: passing messages, seeing what comes back, passing again and trying different tactics.

So, where does that leave researchers who are trying to measure audiences and provide insights for brands and companies? Richard Marks, director of research & business development, Research The Media, UK asks a number of pertinent questions during his opening keynote speech at the Seminar including:

  • What is the difference between cross-media and cross-platform measurement? As the barriers between traditional media silos are blurring, does it matter any more?
  • What's the best approach? Can anyone afford single source measurement? Can anyone understand hybrid and fusion approaches? What is it reasonable to ask a respondent to do nowadays anyway?
  • Is big data the answer? If so, do we actually know what the question is?

Leendert van Meerem, general manager, LVMR Media and Research Consultants, Netherlands reiterates this point saying "If we want a decent discussion we have to agree globally on definitions and try to avoid elasticity. Is it time for a new set of definitions?" He advocates three consumer-linked media concepts to organise the discussion: 1.Viewing moving pictures: video; 2. Listening only: audio; 3. Reading: text and pictures

Shubu Mitra, director marketing productivity, Coca-Cola, USA talks about how Coca Cola is dealing with the cross-media challenge: "throwing in the towel in the face of these challenges is not an option.

Over the years, we have learned that it is futile to seek a single magic silver bullet solution to the above challenges. Also, siloed analysis focusing on understanding the impact of just one specific media channel while ignoring others is potentially misleading. Instead, The Coca-Cola Company takes a holistic and integrated approach to cross media measurement."

Want to know more? Join us in Amsterdam on 1 June at the Understanding multi-platform media audiences Seminar.

(Content derived from Research World March/April 2015 edition "Moving the media goalposts" published 1 April 2015 and the ESOMAR Understanding cross-media audience measurement Seminar abstracts in the link above)