Innovation, Efficiency and the Future of Advertising

Today’s media industry is evolving faster than ever, and at Nielsen, we’re working hard to ensure our clients have the tools they need to measure their content and advertising in this quickly changing environment. And innovation is a key part of our strategy.

With that in mind, Nielsen CEO Mitch Barns took the stage at this year’s Advertising Week – New York to make the case that we should think about innovation as being bigger than just the development of new products that drive growth. We need to consider additional types of innovations and understand that efficiency is an equally worthwhile outcome. Megan Clarken, our President of Watch, then followed him on stage to lead a rousing discussion from a panel of experts across the industry on the impact of recent innovations in video measurement and advertising.

“Most innovations have two main outcomes, growth and efficiency,” Mitch explained. “Growth is probably the more well-known (and sought) result…Meanwhile, efficiency innovations are generally less flashy, less sexy, less exciting, but I believe they are often every bit as big and as important as growth innovations.”

Mitch acknowledged that some may question whether Nielsen is even qualified to talk about innovation. But it’s an area we’ve been putting a lot more focus on over the last few years. And the Nielsen Total Audience framework is a recent example of our success. This measurement strategy is actually several different innovations that we’ve developed to work together to measure audiences for ads and content across all screens and platforms in a way that’s comparable.

In addition, we’re also investing in innovations that bring efficiency. VBrand began as a start-up in our innovation incubator in Israel, and we’ve recently acquired 100% of the business. Using artificial intelligence and machine learning, VBrand identifies the appearance of brands and logos in a highly automated and efficient manner. Nielsen Sports currently does a very similar task manually by employing an overseas team. Applying VBrand’s technology to our larger Nielsen Sports business will drive big gains in efficiency, speed and ultimately quality.

At the event, Mitch also officially announced that Nielsen has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Visual IQa move that will bring additional and valuable efficiencies. Visual IQ specializes in multi-touch attribution modeling of advertising effectiveness on digital platforms, and together we’re building a system that delivers cross-platform metrics for advertising ROI, refreshed on a daily basis.

“Efficiency is not something we should seek because it’s a problem, but because it’s an opportunity. It’s an opportunity for innovation and progress,” Mitch concluded.

After Mitch’s remarks, Megan was joined by Joe Marchese, President Advertising Revenue, FOX, Rishad Tobaccowala, Chief Growth Officer, Publicis Groupe, and Rob Master, Vice President, Global Media, Categories and Partnerships, Unilever. Together, they discussed how experiences created by new devices can open up avenues to reach vast new audiences and tap unimaginable advertising opportunities.

Calling back to Mitch’s presentation, the group noted that innovation needs to come from unexpected places to find growth and efficiencyand that may mean throwing away established business models.

However, the three couldn’t come to an agreement on the metrics the industry should be measuring against in their payment models. Both Joe and Rishad noted that quality content costs money, and they believe the industry needs to pay for it to get the results they want. Rishad also sees opportunities in experiences that combine content, advertising and storytelling together.

But Rob cautioned that we still need to work in today’s reality: “Until the industry is cleaned up, you can talk about the future all you want, but you’re not going to get there when you have all these issues around the digital ecosystem.”

For more information, you can watch a recording of the full session.  

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