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Shifting Media Business From Outputs To Outcomes

Dave Morgan
Dave Morgan  |  Executive Chairman
Published: Dec. 18, 2014

Originally posted on MediaPost

I've written before about why I believe the media industry's future with most brand advertisers will be all about delivering specific business outcomes (leads, sales, etc.) in a predictable, provable and scalable way, not just about delivering a promised basket of media outputs (impressions, GRPs, etc.). The more folks in the business I talk to about this issue, the more certain I am that it will happen.

Basically, it is now possible to match massive sets of first- and third-party purchase data to massive sets of cross-channel media exposure data (web, mobile, email, coupons, direct mail, and now TV through set-top-box-viewing data) and determine with extraordinary precision the actual sales impact of each and every impression, and do it in relative real time. As this capability becomes more developed, more available and more relied upon, we will certainly see a much greater level of accountability applied to all advertising, particularly the historically less-measured mass media like TV and radio. Both media owners and media agencies will be forced to pay more and more attention to the outcomes that they can attribute to their media, not just deliver and reports on the outputs.

What will a media world focused on business outcomes look like? Quite different than it does today, I believe. Here are some things that would certainly change in a media world driven by business outcomes:

Intensive client involvement. If you are going to talk about sales and real-time accountability, you will need much more client involvement in media decision-making, much more often, and not just from the media lead. Consumer research, finance and sales will all be at the table, and will likely be driving many of the decisions, even tactical ones. Just look at how search advertising functions today in most large marketers.

New currencies and systems. As media companies buy, sell, deliver and guarantee more on outcomes than outputs, we will need many more and different currencies than the standard impression, reach, frequency and GRP metrics that we have today. They won't be mutually exclusive. The new currencies will supplement and complement the current ones. New inventory systems will replace yesterday's ad schedulers. For example, you can imagine a future where a TV network would run a campaign for a fast food company that not only guarantees GRPs, but sales lifts as well, relying on a new data-driven, yield management platform that will predict sales lift per impression and will optimize the campaign to hit the promised targets.

Robust data and analytical and attribution capabilities. Data capture, cleansing, matching, analysis and attribution with massive data sets are all highly technical skills not typically found in media industry people today. That will change. In the media world today, buying and licensing data is typically limited to industry standard syndicated data sets. That will change. The winners will be determined by who can create proprietary advantages not only in data, but in the ability to connect the dots between media and resulting consumer behaviors.

There will certainly be many more changes in an outcomes-focused media world. Agencies roles will evolve. Many new people with new skills will come into the business. Many others will leave it. For sure, it will be tumultuous. What do you think?