Matt Hill, Thinkbox: “Best of both worlds”

“Best of both worlds”

Even though first-party data is currently one of the most discussed topics within the industry, we’ve been trying to figure out another challenge for far longer, and that is measurement. With the shift away from third-party identifiers and the rise of privacy preservation, the industry needs a more accurate, sustainable, and secure way to approach measurement.

In the latest episode of our Identity Architects podcast, InfoSum's VP, Client Services, Ben Chivers, sat down with Matt Hill, Director of Research & Planning at Thinkbox, to discuss first-party data, CTV, measurement, and more.

“I can't stress enough the importance of having clean data. [...] Making sure you've got as clean as possible set of data or this kind of data is critical. And then I think the other side of it really is the legal side [...] and have a good understanding of what you'd like to use that data for and that you've got the right permissions to use that data in that way.”

We couldn’t agree more. We all know by now that first-party data is critical, and the first step in any first-party data journey is getting your data in order. This means understanding the data you have, making sense of it all, and how you can connect it to the ecosystem. And once that is all in place, you can identify strategic partners to collaborate with as your own data only tells part of the story. You need to fill in the gaps.

“I think the media owners that are sitting on the biggest volumes of first-party data are in a good position. [...] They're going to be in a really really good place to enable advertisers to get the most out of all the promises that the online world offers in terms of being able to target individual users using that data and increase the efficiency and the effectiveness of their advertising campaigns. So I think first-party data is more and more critical in today's world.”

Absolutely. But we are still in the midst of getting to a point where a big part of the industry is in a good place to no longer rely on third-party identifiers. The forward-thinking organizations who are leaning into new solutions are already reaping the benefits and will steal a march on their competitors. 

“We're still quite at the beginning. A lot of this stuff is still quite novel. It still requires quite a lot of effort and work. But I think we're getting through a lot of those barriers and the brands that are starting to experiment with this opportunity are going to be the ones that are ahead of the game. Because they're going to have a lot of the setup in place, they're going to realize how to use it. They're gonna realize how they can take advantage of it. They can see what works, what doesn't work”

With such a fast-paced industry and ever-evolving technology, combined with emerging channels, one of the challenges we are still figuring out is measurement.

“The only challenges around measurement really stem from the fragmentation that we've seen in the media landscape. So it was easier twenty years ago when there were only a smaller number of channels and it was all delivered linear. [...] We're moving into this place where basically the world has gotten more complicated and the tools that we used to measure audiences have lost their power and their ability to do that accurately.”

In the end, it’s all about ROI, did I get more out than I put it? But fragmentation across linear TV, Connected TV, radio, OOH, print and display advertising is making that increasingly challenging.

“So the media that are working directly are only measured indirectly like out of home, TV, radio, print. It's always been from an outcomes point of view. It's always been more of a challenge to be able to measure the impact that those channels are having on the campaign's performance [...] where you can look at how many people are going directly to the website within a minute or so of a TV ad airing. What we do know is that that kind of attribution modeling is only capturing a really small proportion of the overall impact. [...] Obviously, with online channels in particular the likes of search and social media, they've used attribution modeling because there is this return path data set so they can say here's somebody who saw your ad and we now know that they did go on and click through or went to the site or they behaved in this way. And I think that type of data has been really used by advertisers as a way of demonstrating the value of those channels. [...] The problem with it is that a lot of times it's not really taking into account all the other factors that would have driven that sale and all the credit ends up going to the search advertising whereas in fact the TV was doing a really important job of driving the brand trust and credibility.” 

Absolutely. It is so important to know which channel and creative had what kind of impact and not only track the last interaction and give full credit to that last interaction but also to holistically understand the impact of activity throughout the funnel. If only it were that easy. But there are ways to a more sensible approach to measurement. 

“As an industry actually and again this is partly down to the changes that the likes of Apple and Google are made in terms of your ability to track that kind of data and everyone's moving towards a more sensible approach to understanding outcome-based results. And by using better data, econometrics I think is in a really interesting place. But I think there's more that can be done and [...] I think that pretty much everyone agrees with it, having a proper control and  test group whereby a certain group can be exposed to a campaign and an equivalent like-for-like group who are just as likely to buy the product or a similar demographic to the exposed group are sectioned out and they're not exposed and then you can start to get a read and how effective that campaign was.”

And to do that there are new and exciting technologies such as data clean rooms that facilitate that kind of approach. 

“The idea of well the potential from data bunkers is really interesting because it allows advertisers to be able to share data in a way that means they're not having to give their own data away and one of the key advantages is that once you're in and then you've got your legal setup, then you’ve got a bit more freedom to be able to play, to test and learn, to experiment in a way that will be just too time consuming if you were trying to set it up from scratch every single time.”

Talking about new technologies, there are definitely still some technologies or features missing that would help organizations on their measurement journey.

“Just making it really easy, taking away all the complexity and making it so that everything was available in one place [...] completely unified. [...] And there was a simple interface where all the legals were done, where you could just go and buy and test and play at small scale in a simple way. Everyone would be doing it all the time right? The problem is that setting up in the first place can be quite time-consuming. You've got a lot of internal work to do with your own sort of legal teams, there’s hoops that you have to sort of jump through and to check. I think it's just a pain that we're going to have to go through over the next five to ten years. But if we go through that, remember we're traveling to a place where as an industry the volume of TV that's going to be IP-delivered is going to massively ramp up and so this is going to be even more important and you probably want to be in a place as a business where you've got a good idea of how to use it and you've got a lot of the initial groundwork done so that you can then really properly take advantage of it and you're not suddenly trying to play catch up.”

So exciting to hear Matt talking about the future. So naturally, we wanted to hear more of his predictions.

“What I do see is that in five years' time TV is going to be in a really interesting place in bringing together the best of both worlds. By the best of both worlds I mean it's the ability of TV to tell an engaging story across thirty or sixty seconds of airtime in an environment that's trusted and respected in people's favorite content alongside all the targeting capability that the online world brings and I think online's been promising for years and these efficiencies and this enhanced effectiveness to advertisers and I'm not sure we've completely seen that realized. But I think in five years' time we could be seeing some really exciting stuff.”

Thanks, Matt, for the chat!