Anthony JonesAnthony Jones Head of Insight, Association for Online Publishing

The publishing industry is justifiably proud of its achievement in bringing PAMCo to the marketplace. With the formal launch of the data back in April, the communications industry as a whole is still coming to terms with the magnitude of the achievement.

Publishers can now substantiate their performance via a single, trusted, audience measure for readership across all platforms – including desktop, mobile, tablet and print.

The good news for Premium Publishers is that the PAMCo data has confirmed their continued scale – daily adult reach of 30m across all published media (rising to a monthly reach of 48m).

No-one should underestimate the challenges in undertaking multiplatform audience measurement – and UKOM too can take great credit for its essential contribution to PAMCo’s development.

It’s a huge step forward… and a timely one at that. For AOP members, it’s an important antidote to concerns about the toxic aspects of the so-called post-truth world – a world in which fake news and exaggerated social media reach figures hold sway and where, in the wake of data harvesting scandals, public worries about privacy have been growing.

Thanks, amongst others, to P&G’s Marc Pritchard and Unilever’s Keith Weed, advertiser pressure has been growing. They need to feel certain that their brand messages are seen by real people in trusted, safe, environments.

The need for independently-verified metrics has never been higher.

Writing in the week PAMCo launched, one commentator, Mediatel’s Dominic Mills, summed up its significance rather well: “For the first time, publishers can substantiate – rather than simply assert – their multi-platform reach, making it harder for planners – many of whom only consume this medium digitally – to dismiss them on either reach or frequency grounds.”

The issue of being rewarded for successfully developing their brands across multiple platforms has been at the heart of the challenge for publishers over the last few years.

And in this context, the full extent of PAMCo’s mutually beneficial relationship with UKOM and Comscore, its contracted partner for digital audience statistics, is worth acknowledging in full.

The PAMCo methodology integrates data from three sources to provide a complete view of publisher audiences. Firstly, its demographic and print readership data are derived from an in-home, face-to-face survey of 35,000 participants per year. Second, a digital panel of 5,000 participants (a sub-set of the 35,000) have a Tracker App installed on their devices – desktop, laptop, phone, tablet.  This panel allows PAMCo to obtain an accurate measure of duplication across print and digital platforms.

Finally, using a specially-developed data fusion methodology, the data is plugged into UKOM verified Comscore data. This innovative data integration approach allows the survey to derive the richest and most comprehensive picture of audience behaviour across the whole of the digital domain, including activity that a relatively small panel survey might miss.

In effect it’s another validation of the hybrid model that UKOM has pursued since its inception almost a decade ago.

The way UKOM is structured allows it to provide cross-industry consensus on coverage and quality in the digital ecosystem; but also gives it flexibility in methodology to cope with the ongoing changes and developments in the digital industry.

A key part of this flexibility is driven by a hybrid methodology that integrates data from both census (tagging) and panel (to provide demographics) sources in order to produce the final published metrics.

The UKOM structure also has the benefit of enabling technical learnings and product developments from Comscore in other countries to be available for the UK marketplace – speeding up the time the service can react to market developments (not to mention the cost benefits).

Our members, of course, have long recognised the importance of UKOM. (Not for nothing is the AOP a co-owner of UKOM with IAB and ISBA!) Just recently, Alison Finnegan, Insight and Ad Marketing Director at Immediate Media reaffirmed its importance to publishers: “UKOM / Comscore data is the gold-standard of digital measurement. This allows us great confidence in using the data across our commercial and digital publishing teams, knowing we are making key business decisions based on robust data about our sites and our competitors.”

Or take these comments from Phil McMullan, Digital Insight Manager at ESI Media, who told me recently: “We’ve seen over the last year how tech players going to the market with their own internal analytics can lead to errors and overclaim. In the competitive world of newsbrands we believe that independent measurement by a third party is key for trust and confidence in the digital advertising ecosystem. UKOM certified data gives us that confidence and is a key tool for ESI to track the digital performance of our brands, The Independent and The Evening Standard.”

With both publishers and advertisers stressing the need for independent and verified online measurement, UKOM provides the governance and quality assurance needed by the industry in the current climate of distrust of a lot of data. AOP believes UKOM provides essential oversight of the digital data – a much needed role in order to help achieve the necessary confidence in the audience data that underpins a large part of the digital trading ecosystem.

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