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The future of media currencies one year on

Last year we consulted various stakeholders across the media industry on what the future of media currency would look like in 5 years’ time1. You can read our white paper here but to summarise we outlined three possible scenarios for the future:

  1. Technological self-regulation of data, through Blockchain (emphasis on user-ownership of data)
  2. Competitive chaos replacing order, multiple currencies and walled gardens controlled by competing entities (emphasis on proprietary ownership of data)
  3. The rise of the “Super JIC” (Joint Industry Committee) – as centralised guardians of data (emphasis on shared ownership of data through collaboration)

These are not either/or scenarios but rather three inter-related trends that could develop to a greater or lesser extent depending on the conditions within different markets.

One year on, how are these predictions playing out? Are any of them becoming more broadly adopted and are we any clearer in understanding the future of media currency?

1) User ownership (via blockchain)

It’s been hard to escape the industry’s obsession with blockchain over the last 12 months. There has been a lot of talk about using it to simplify the digital supply chain and make ad buying process more transparent and accountable.

There have been quite a few new entrants to the market claiming to do just that, such as TMG’s launch of Truth which provides added-value through its blockchain-based trading desk. On the clientside Unilever partnered with IBM not just to simplify the supply chain, but also tackle the issue of brand safety. And on the platform-side Fenestra was launched earlier this year.

Verdict: Expect many more entrants in the marketplace but we are nowhere near a tipping yet. The industry will need to be convinced of competitive advantage to switch from existing practices and suppliers.

Another potential application of blockchain is enabling consumers to take more control over which advertising they want to be exposed to. This means consumers could “opt-in” to advertising and content that is highly relevant to them, or they could be rewarded (financially or through credits) for their brand interactions and their data. Blockchain could in theory then manage these data contracts at scale. This giant opt-in would potentially reduce ad blocking, and also help to address concerns regarding ad fraud and non-human traffic.

It has to be said there has been more talk than action in this area, however last year, Bitclave launched BASE a blockchain-based decentralised search engine which connects consumers directly with businesses – eliminating intermediaries such as Google AdWords. The premise is that uses will be able to search on personalized offers – avoiding links to irrelevant advertising and be paid in exchange for viewing the relevant ones.

Also Townsquare Media and digital platform Brave partnered to test blockchain based advertising providing readers with Basic Attention Tokens (BAT).

Verdict: Still in its infancy with just the early adopters entering the market. But the issue remains, if individuals can manage and monetise their personal data directly – will this eventually disintermediate data companies themselves?

2) Proprietary ownership – walled gardens

Even a year ago publishing rivals News UK, Guardian News & Media and The Telegraph had already started to join forces to create their own premium marketplace while broadcasters Fox, Turner and Viacom joined forces to create their own audience measurement platform.

This trend shows no sign of abating and we are starting to see new and interesting collaborations in growth areas. With viewers devoting more time to OTT content there is great potential for data-driven advertising and programmatic trading for TV. The European Broadcaster Exchange (EBX) was founded by Mediaset (Italy and Spain), ProSiebenSat.1 Media (Germany), TF1 Group (France) and Channel 4 (UK) to develop addressable advertising solutions for premium online video content.

Also the growth of mobile video is leading to interesting developments, such as the collaboration among Hollywood studios including Disney, Fox, Sony, Lionsgate, MGM, NBCU, Viacom and WarnerMedia for Jeffrey Katzenberg’s proposed new platform.

Verdict: Collaborations and partnerships likely to continue with further consolidation of groups as scale is king. Will these new entities seek to collaborate with JICs though?

3) Rise of the Super JIC

Despite the growth of these walled gardens, we predicted that the industry is likely to more highly regulated in the future and that the JICs are well placed to ensure media measurement is trusted, independent and GDPR compliant. What makes them “Super JICs” is that they would also be supported by global digital platforms and other key data providers.

At GfK we have started to see this trend already in our total video measurement solutions for example with the introduction of YouTube alongside TV measurement in Germany and in Singapore with integration of TV and digital media.

However in July this year the formation of the first true SuperJIC began to gather pace as the Netherlands became the first country in the world to issue a tender for a TMAM – Total Media Audience Measurement. This means all viewing, reading and listening of media would be measured under one roof while adhering to industry quality standards and being GDPR and e-privacy compliant.

Verdict: The Netherlands’ previous drive for total video measurement was followed in a number of other markets. The world will be watching and waiting to see how far this model can be replicated elsewhere.

Conclusion

If the Dutch SuperJIC is successful it may well become the blueprint for future collaboration between JICs, digital platforms and other data providers. However creating consensus in other markets will be very challenging and managing expectations among stakeholders harder still, but it probably provides the best foundation for independent, trusted measurement.

If the challenges of integrated measurement prove to be insurmountable, this could further encourage walled gardens to go it alone. This would undoubtedly make life more complicated for the agencies that need to trade with a growing number of suppliers plan across an array of different metrics.

If that becomes the predominant direction of travel, then blockchain enabled solutions might well become the only way to deal with such fragmentation and complexity. But don’t expect any major changes soon. Blockchain is still at the experimental stage and it will take time for the industry to consolidate around the standard solutions that blockchain will deliver. Whatever approach we use, trust will always be a central requirement.

 

1Footnotes:

How it all started: voices from across the industry. GfK and IAB Europe invited industry representatives to a round table discussion on how media measurement might look in five years’ time. Participants included: digital platforms Google, Facebook and Oath; global ad agencies Publicis and Dentsu; media owners from broadcast TV and digital; a programmatic audience platform; a national advertising association and the German JIC (Joint Industry Committee) for TV audience research, AGF.  It is the first time we have been able to discuss these issues with such a broad group and, from the ensuing debate, three possible scenarios for the future became apparent:

The rise of the “Super JIC” as reinvigorated, neutral data arbiters

Chaos replaces order, with data being controlled by different competing entities large and small

Technological self-regulation of data, likely in the form of an adaptation of Blockchain technology

 

Are you interested in more insights?

We held a roundtable discussion with leaders from across the media industry to debate what media currencies will look like in 5 years’ time. Explore interesting facts in our free white paper.

Download our free white paper
 

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