LONDON — It’s a fragmented world, and none more so than in a fragmented continent.

Advertisers want to be able to reach viewers across the plethora of video screens and services – but their agencies are hard-pressed to measure their impact.

That goes doubly so when new services keep popping up which don’t necessarily subscribe to industry-agreed measurement methods.

All of which poses a challenge to Simon Thomas, global director for audiences research at the world’s biggest media-buying agency, WPP’s GroupM.

In this video interview with Furious Corp. CEO Ashley J. Swartz for Beet.TV, he explains how a series of joint industry committees (JIC) around the world has agreed on measurement standards for particular media forms – but that this is coming under pressure.

“There’s a lot of frustrations in terms of the actual way we can practise our audience measurement and use that measurement to actually advise the advertiser on the effectiveness of the investment,” Thomas says. “Europe is a very fragmented marketplace.

“GRPs (TV gross rating points) are different between countries. A GRP is different in the UK to Germany, to France, and certainly to the US. Standardisation just in the TV market, has been an incredibly difficult task to achieve.”

In the old world, measuring media audiences was more straightforward – if not relatively accurate. Panels like that from BARB in the UK would report TV viewing habits, extrapolated to national level.

But what’s “TV” anymore”? GroupM’s Thomas favors a definition of “Total Video”. That’s something measurement agencies are striving toward, but initiatives like BARB’s Project Dovetail, accounting for new types of TV viewing, have been slow to progress.

In that space, Thomas is seeing the rise of new players that don’t necessarily subscribe to the JIC system.

He says new advertiser-supported VOD, broadcaster VOD, subscription VOD and new-wave pay-TV providers often all have their own take on measuring consumption on advertisers’ behalf.

“(They) all have their own return path data … as parts of that whole measurement picture,” Thomas says.

“Who is going to lead that charge? Who should be driving it is a really difficult question. But I would say the primacy has to be with the advertiser, it also has to be with the broadcaster / publisher on the non-broadcast side, as those who are using it to monetize their advertising inventory.”

This video was produced in London at the Future of TV Ads Global forum in December 2019.   This series is sponsored by Finecast, the global addressable TV company that is part of WPP.   For more videos from the series, please visit this page.