Digital and Data's Relentless Transformation Of Media Industry Continues

Dave Morgan

Founder & CEO

Originally posted on MediaPost

Digital and data are rolling over the legacy establishments of the media industry. Events this week reminded us once again of the relentless, never-ending transformation that the media industry is suffering or gaining, depending on your perspective at the hands of digital and data technology and approaches.

Data point one: earlier this week, long-time online ad industry measurement pioneer comScore launched its first-ever TV measurement product, Xmedia, which is being welcomed with open arms by TV companies.

Data point two: Agencies apparently now know that they need lots of data scientists in their companies, but seem to have little sense of why they’re having such a hard time hiring these experts.

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Digital approaches to TV measurement are coming quickly. It’s no surprise that comScore is entering the TV measurement world with its new cross-platform measurement service. That step seemed inevitable after comScore gained access to the Arbitron people meter data set as part of the Nielsen/Arbitron merger settlement with the government. However, I was a bit surprised by the very warm welcome the TV industry is giving the company, given the industry’s historical reticence to change, as well as the difficulties new TV measurement initiatives have faced in the past (insert erinMedia or Project Apollo).

I saw this firsthand on Tuesday as part of a panel at comScore’s very well-attended Industry Summit in New York City, talking about The Future of TV with some of the television industry’s top researchers: Viacom’s Colleen Fahey Rush, NBCUniversal’s Alan Wurtzel, ESPN’s Artie Bulgrin and CIMM’s Jane Clarke. All praised comScore’s entry into the market and also called for greater investments by TV companies into new and improved measurement technologies.

They made this request now not only because measurements based on small samples of TV viewers can’t keep up with the audience fragmentation problem, but also because TV companies find their audiences shifting to digital products on mobile, tablet and TV devices. Granular, digital, data-intensive measurements are becoming the norm more and more with advertisers.

Which brings us to data point two from this week:

Data science (and scientists) are key to ad industry’s future, but many don’t know how to participate. The growing importance of data science in the ad industry was mentioned by several top media agency executives during sessions at DMEXCO, the Cologne, Germany-based global digital marketing conference that has fast become the must-attend event in the industry. That was not surprising. Folks in the industry have seen this trend coming for years – it’s been part of the standard remarks of holding company CEOs for some time.

However, what I did find surprising (and a bit comical) were statements from media agency executives about the agency world’s difficulty in hiring data scientists, noting that it was a branding problem. I guess that to a hammer, everything out there looks like a nail. Apparently, some believe that agencies could easily hire a bunch of data scientists if data scientists could only be convinced that the ad industry is an exciting place to work. Sounds like agencies are only a good ad campaign away from data scientists beating a path to their doors.

It’s funny. There are a lot of companies that don’t have any difficulty hiring data scientists (insert Google, Facebook or Yahoo here). Maybe hiring data scientists is more a matter of giving them challenging problems to solve, putting them on teams with other great data scientists, and paying them the premium compensation packages that they deserve and earn these days.

Of course, as was pointed out to me by my colleague Pravin Chandiramani, leadership is also an issue. It will probably be a long time before agency holding companies have CEOs with names like Marissa, Sergey, Satya and Sundar.

What I know for sure is that digital and data disruption are here now and are changing our industry from top to bottom all the time. Seems as if no week goes by without similar stories and reactions. It’s going to get a lot crazier before it gets calmer. What do you think?

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