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As Wavemaker Head of Audience Science, Kathryn Saxon leads a team of research and social insight specialists who uncover category and audience insight, blending “data and rich human truths together to underpin and drive strategic decisions for our clients.” Part of GroupM and WPP, clients include Nationwide and several key Government departments. “A single source of measurement enables transparency,” she says, “which is necessary for relationships on all sides to flourish.”

Q. The sheer number of data suppliers out there is mind-boggling, so why did Wavemaker chose UKOM-endorsed Ipsos iris, and why now?

When we trialled Ipsos iris across the agency there were multiple positives that were fed back from different specialist teams across Wavemaker. That’s part of its appeal, it is useful to many areas of the business not just one, a data set of this size is utilised in different ways depending on who’s using it.

Specifically for planning, data on media reach and volume and being able to understand cross visiting is particularly useful. Additionally, having more granular audience data when building audiences, such as ethnicity, is more than what we’ve had previously so is of great benefit when profiling audiences and surfacing insights about online behaviour.

Another benefit is full access to PAMCo data which is essential for mapping trends and planning as we have full visibility of the publisher universe.

Underpinning this all though is the fact that Ipsos iris provides one version of measurement truth and is independent, which ensures fairness whether you’re deemed ‘big’ or ‘small’.

Q. Everyone has an opinion on digital audience measurement and what should be in the mix. What's the single most important factor for you?

For me personally, it’s transparency. I’m pleased the industry strived for a large single-source measurement data set that covers a wide range of websites and apps with data collected in a way that reflects behaviour, for instance, across multiple devices.

Numerous times I’ve been presented with data from suppliers that lacked robustness or from different sources that were not comparable and, therefore, questionable. A single source of measurement enables transparency, which is necessary for relationships on all sides to flourish.

Q. There's more depth and flexibility to the Ipsos iris data than was available via UKOM endorsed data in the past. Are you using these new features yet and if so have they improved your work for clients? 

Across Wavemaker we are making use of these new features and they are proving invaluable for our own understanding of behaviours and informing client responses.

Just recently we used Ipsos iris to investigate if there had been an uplift in traffic to news websites since the Ukraine conflict began, and if so, who was engaging and which publishers were they engaging with.

In an era when clients want faster reporting and quicker answers, having a data set that is near real-time enables us to be confident that we are using current behaviour trends to inform our responses.

Ethnicity is increasingly valuable as all advertisers are seeking to be inclusive in their communications.

Q. At UKOM we've spent time explaining that comparisons with previous data are unhelpful, that long-term past trend data isn't the key benefit of Ipsos iris. Are you comfortable that the arrival of Ipsos iris in 2021 marked year zero, a reboot? 

Trends have been and always will be important and helpful to us, so comfortable, no. However, we accept that with the fragmentation of media behaviours and the shift to digital (even more so with the impact of covid-19) there was a need to reset to be future facing and have fit for purpose measurement data and audience insight that aids today’s decisions – this need supersedes the requirement for trend data.

Q. Media owner tagging boosts the depth and breadth of data available in Ipsos iris. As an agency with close links to publishers and platforms, how would you persuade even more of them to make tagging a top and ongoing priority?

Tagging puts publishers and platforms in control and doesn’t everyone want to be in control of their data? Tagging is far more reliable than any other method as it’s not assumptive.

If tagging equals accuracy this means the data is better quality which equals stronger insight meaning better decisions and choices can be made by everyone. Alongside this we know from experience that accurate data instil confidence in us and our clients, so I’d hope they’d strive for this to ensure they were part of those decisions around budget allocation.

Q. Looking to the future, and imagining no constraints, how would you like to see online audience measurement evolve in the UK?

Ipsos iris now has a solid foundation for measuring digital audiences, so in the future I’d personally like to see it extend into areas that reflect newer digital behaviours that are set to grow such as podcast audience measurement, gaming, augmented reality and virtual reality and voice content.

As an agency it’s essential we understand how these emerging platforms fit into the daily lives of our audiences and thus the media mix for our clients.  It’s our responsibility to keep challenging ourselves to ensure we continually look for new ways to engage and reach audiences and with more behavioural insight derived from data it will prevent people making assumptions and generalising about who is actually engaging in these emerging digital behaviours.

Q. Is it important to have an audience measurement solution that is tailored to the UK's unique situation?

The UK has a complex marketplace and, therefore, rightly deserves a tailored measurement solution. We have a high device adoption rate and we need a solution that reflects this.

Q. With a single source multi-device panel, Ipsos iris is more interoperable with other data sets, including PAMCo and IPA Touchpoints. Would you consider integrating iris with your own proprietary systems?

Last year Wavemaker launched Maximize, our multi-audience planning platform. It’s driven by AI and it ingests and analyses data from global and local sources including client first-party data, GroupM’s Audience Origin and Wavemaker’s own Momentum data. The power of the platform is that it plans against individuals rather than audience segments so further data to aid this platform would be something we are keen to look at.

Q. UKOM data from Ipsos iris feeds PAMCo with the online element of audience measurement for published media. Is this combined data set valuable to your agency?

For planning, it’s really valuable to us. Newsbrands and other publishers are an essential part of the media mix and, therefore, it’s important for us to understand the full audience universe of print and online. We have to base our decisions on the data available to us so data on reach and duplication plays a huge part in our choices. Having full sight of the PAMCo data set is also essential for us to keep abreast of market and trend data.

Q. As a reward for answering these dastardly questions, we're moving you to zero online presence for a month. What do you switch back on first and why? 

I would be a wreck after a month! After reconnecting the first thing I would open is my banking app – with the continual onslaught of news telling me about the rising cost of living and the stark warning of further pressures to come on family budgets I’ve become hyper aware of all things finance. I’d be keen to see if I’d stayed on budget across the month as I think with no visibility of my spending I’d be way off track!

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