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Tim WebsterChief Strategy OfficerThe Exchange Lab
Viewers in the UK are spending their time across multiple devices, consuming news and other content in ways that leave marketers struggling to define attribution, according to Tim Webster, co-founder and chief strategy officer at The Exchange Lab, a UK-based programmatic media company that serves demand-side platforms globally. eMarketer’s Sean Creamer spoke to Webster about how marketers are working to define measurement standards while ushering in cross-platform advertising.
eMarketer: We forecast 55% of all media spend in the UK going into digital advertising. What do you think about that?
Tim Webster: Fundamentally, this goes back to consumers and the way that all of us consume media. We all have multiple devices. Newspaper sales are down. We are consuming our news content on those different devices, and we are consuming it in a digital way. You can’t deliver a press ad on an iPad; you actually deliver a digital ad.
Technology sometimes feels like it’s almost taking over our lives. Media is delivered in a digital way. If you look at TV, it’s being streamed by companies like Netflix and Amazon. That’s all digital-enabled. Therefore, it naturally moves advertising to that sort of digital space. That’s the fundamental driver.
eMarketer: Considering that brands are following the audiences, what channels do you see UK viewers consuming content on?
Webster: That varies between the different age groups. For instance, you’ll find nonlinear TV popular in the younger age groups, along with things like messaging, and probably even relying less on things like email. If you look at newspaper circulation, it’s going to be the older generation that is still buying newspapers whereas the younger generation is consuming news digitally. Device-wise, the younger you are, the more you’re going to be biased toward a handset mobile device as opposed to a tablet or laptop.
eMarketer: How are you seeing UK consumers consume content over social media?
Webster: Similarly, social media usage is linked to age. Let’s use the example of Facebook and news. I think the news content that you can access through Facebook comes from the traditional news agencies. If people are using Facebook as their portal to that news and you ask someone where they get this news, quite a lot of people will turn right around and say ‘I get my news from Facebook,’ even though it’s sourced from the traditional newspapers and news outlets.
That’s where it becomes blurred. Some people don’t actually know the real source of what they are consuming.
eMarketer: Does this mean that many marketers are worried about proper attribution?
Webster: When you talk about attribution and measurement of digital, it’s still a challenge we face. It’s still far too common that attribution models being used are last touch. We are seeing the conversation move towards more robust attribution. And where that conversation becomes really interesting is when you start looking at cross-device attribution. Because now you are actually looking and trying to understand the user’s true path as opposed to it being siloed by device.
eMarketer: How important do you think it is for the industry to define standards for attribution?
Webster: We’ve got some challenges around definitions. Viewability has been a topic that has been very openly and widely debated for some time now. But now advertisers are very much starting to question the lack of industry standards or how robust they are. What we’re seeing is advertisers and brands looking to create their own standard internally for how they measure ads as opposed to adopting industry standards.
eMarketer: Would you say that data has been appropriately used in this effort to nail down standardization?
Webster: Data is still underutilized, but I think the ambition to better use both owned or first-party data and third-party data is growing significantly. And certainly the area we operate in, which is programmatic, the promise of that is in data-driven marketing and a one-to-one relationship with consumers. There certainly is strong adoption of ideas, and I think we are really starting to see some quite innovative thinking.
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