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#reThink13: Cross Platform Measurement – From Custom Project to Standard Practice

ESPN has partnered with Arbitron for TV and Radio data, and with Comscore for PC, Mobile, and set-top box data to produce a "Nationally projectable, five platform, cross platform measurement system,".



By Jonathan Ewert

Drucker’s popular expression ““If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it” has never been more true than in the world of marketing and advertising.  Artie Bulgrin provided an update on what ESPN is doing in the field of cross-platform measurement with what he calls a “sense of urgency we need” to understand how Americans spend 11 hours a day.

In 2009, ESPN published “The Seven principles of cross-media research” which “cracked the code” of cross-media measurement and which served as the basis for much of Artie’s update:

  1. A new media will create new strata (not new universes) of users: There is no “future” where “everybody” will do anything.
  2. There are no “new metrics”: What really matters is how many, how often, and how long.
  3. Users and usage: “How many” is not “how long.”
  4. A heavy user is a heavy user: Heavy users of one medium tend to be heavy users of many media.
  5. Cross-media usage is not zero-sum: Doing one behavior more doesn’t necessarily mean that a consumer is using another medium less.
  6. Simultaneous usage is widespread but limited: In brief: Large numbers of people, small number of minutes.
  7. Users default to the best available screen: People use different platforms at different times in different places for different purposes.

In 2010, ESPN decided to elevate the focus of the research from special project to standard business process with the goals of inform media plans with more predictive insights and establishing linkages from siloed data sets to plan and measure media better.

ESPN aims to get after what Bulgrin calls a “black hole” of content consumption measurement, informed by their work in solving Wanamaker’s problem with advertising consumption measurement.  Accordingly, Bulgrin talked about ESPN XP which was created for the WorldCup which measured users by platform, incremental audience lifts by platforms, and the platform effect of advertising performance.

Focused on producing a “Nationally projectable, five platform, cross platform measurement system,” ESPN has partnered with Arbitron for TV and Radio data, and with Comscore for PC, Mobile, and set-top box data.  They expect to release their findings by the June ARF conference, and deliver it in a “nice client interface”.  It will be interesting how much information is shared with advertising clients, since according to Bulgrin, “we have the data”.

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