How to gain clarity in an increasingly fragmented media landscape

Our latest panel at the MRS Alchemy conference explored how we navigate and accurately measure an increasingly complex media landscape, particularly in difficult times and under increased budget scrutiny.

Our chair Sarah Robson, Head of Advertising Effectiveness at On Device Research hosted a fantastic array of professionals across the media space including Louise Twycross-Lewis, Head of Insight at PHD, Neil Mortensen, Head of Audiences at ITV, Peter Wallace, General Manager EMEA at Gum Gum, Emily Alcorn, Head of Effectiveness at Talon and Kate Rutter, Head of Commercial Insight at Global, where the fragmentation challenge was debated alongside what research professionals should keep front of mind as we continue to progress into 2023.

Current challenges in the media space.

Louise kicked off our panel debate by discussing the fact that fragmentation of media is not anything new. We have been working in a fragmented often siloed media space for years. Yes, it is true that some of the digital platforms have been continuing to fragment at pace, but one of the biggest challenges is adopting research practices that ideally offer combined and consistent methodologies to help streamline efforts in driving increased accountability. This is an evolving challenge and one that often requires increased technological advancements to help measure this (particularly for the digital world as cookies finally leave the building!)

This is exactly why On Device Research launched their Omnichannel brand impact product last year, with the aim of providing clients with a one stop solution in measuring effectiveness across OOH, TV, Audio, Digital and Social Media platforms.

Louise continued that another challenge being seen from an agency perspective is increasing the utilisation of data via the merging of different data sets to provide a more comprehensive story into ad effectiveness. This is about driving as many different insights from different sources as possible to obtain a holistic view on brand performance.

For Neil at ITV, he stated it was the increased range of diverse skillsets needed in the media research world that needed more focus. There is certainly an increased demand for more data scientists in our profession, but we are also still in need of those that can humanise that data and bring those stories to life. There is also the challenge of more internal data than ever before and measuring that effectively on mass in order to make a real impact is no mean feat.

Kate suggested that businesses are still very excited about first party data but sometimes forget about some of the traditional research techniques that a lot of our business previously performed well on. We should not lose sight of this. There is also a real risk that sometimes having so much data means it’s easier to lose sight of what really matters. For Pete, the main challenge is still the short term versus the long-term focus when it comes to measurement. Everyone wants to improve on this but it generally falls to the back of the queue, particularly in difficult times. With any marketing budget cuts or freezes, this generally translates into a hive short term activations & consequently short-term measurement but in doing so, losing track of the benefits that longer term planning, buying and measurement offer.

A challenge for Emily over in the OOH world is the disconnect sometimes present in term of the research objective not tallying up with the campaign. It’s so important that insight professionals can link back the research needs and requirements to the actual campaign objective (and it is amazing how many times this isn’t actually always the case).

In terms of creative challenges, Kate kicked off this part of the debate with stating that every media offers different benefits and therefore measurement should always reflect the different nuances that exist across each platform when ascertaining campaign success. Neil stated that human nature drives the instant push for immediate data and there is often this pressure to show instant success all the time. However, it’s important to understand that not all success is proven quickly and sometimes we need to be more patient with our data sources before making big decisions.

Pete stated that distinguishing yourself as a brand is increasingly difficult in a fragmented market and when creative represents circa 50% of campaign success, a huge amount of focus therefore should be dedicated to this. For Louise, creative success is about injecting the human touch and bringing the consumer to the heart of the creative execution.

Are we paying more attention?

For Pete, one of the biggest emerging areas in research is the understanding of attention and this is a big push for his team in terms of incorporating this into more studies this year. Neil agreed that attention is important within the market, particularly for TV as its diversified across many platforms. However, Kate said that attention is made up of so many different parts and we need to dissect the metric more to enable an increased understanding of its value. For example, how passive attention performs versus active attention.

Emerging methodologies:

It’s fair to say increasing technology has allowed the opportunities in the media research world to continue to develop at speed. However, Kate made a great point that just because you can measure a device, this doesn’t automatically translate in being able to measure the actual person – the device shouldn’t be seen as a direct correlation with the person, and this is something insight professionals need to be more aware of.

For Emily, the use of location data continues to grow in importance in helping support the passive measurement in OOH. For us at On Device Research, this is what makes our own OOH brand impact solution unique to drive better accuracy through knowledge of passive exposure via location data and therefore running an exposed versus control methodology to enable an increased accuracy in effectiveness within the outdoor space.

For Louise, there ideally needs to be increased focus on bringing together different pockets of data that as researchers we now all have access to.

What are the key metrics that we should focus on in 2023?

For Pete, the continuation into the understanding of attention is incredibly key as we progress into the remainder of the year. For Emily, she points that we are entering into an uncertain year and tracking metrics such as brand consideration will be key in ensuring brands stay top of mind. For Louise, she feels we should be focusing on how we better drive brand salience and mental availability, particularly in the context of any recession.

For Neil, he commented that if the metric agreed within the context of the project helps support growth, that’s the main outcome as commercial insight researchers that we should always be aiming for. For Kate, it’s all about going back to the campaign objectives and ensuring the main metric at the heart of that project simply reflects this.

What is the one key takeout to take back to the office for the rest of 2023?

Emily stated that although we continue to exist within a fragmented landscape, as insight professionals we should always ensure that the objective remains at the heart of the project. Kate stated that outcome focused research which drives positive results should be the priority. Louise stated that collaboration is key, whether that’s across media partners, tech partners or otherwise, but ultimately, the magic really happens when teams come together. For Kate, she stated that just because you can measure it, it doesn’t mean you should. Always isolate the objective, otherwise we can risk losing our way. Neil stated we shouldn’t steer on the short term metrics but concentrate on what is really valuable to your brand. Hold your nerve in difficult times.

We’d like to thank everyone who joined our panel at the latest MRS conference. If you’d like to find out more around how you can increase your advertising accountability within a fragmented media landscape, please take a look at our suite of brand measurement solutions at

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