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Simon Bevan, Chief Investment Officer at Havas Media Group, is responsible for media activation, planning and buying across Havas agencies. This encompasses harnessing the right data sets to inform buying to meet campaign objectives, utilising and driving innovation across key technology and products and delivering on strategy solutions that meet clients’ transparency and business KPIs. “Of course,” he says, “all of this has to be done while building meaningful and trusted partnerships with our media partners”.

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

There is significant value and benefit in having trusted and transparent industry standards – in particular those that improve the way we uncover unique insight, support strategy and planning, and enable better activation and measurement. We believe those standards reassure our clients’ partners and enable greater consistency for the industry.

So our decision to subscribe to Ipsos iris was an easy one: in a complex digital ecosystem of smartphone, tablet and PC consumption across a vast array of diverse publishers, standards are more important than ever. We were also impressed by the breadth and depth of Ipsos iris, which went above and beyond our incumbent data supplier.


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?

We want independent governance to ensure there’s a fair and sustainable ecosystem that provides a comparable level of insight on publishers large and small, across web and app environments.

For example, in 2020, we created the Social Equity Marketplace, specifically to invest in publishers with underrepresented voices and audiences. Projects like this rely on a fair, UK-wide and independent view on digital audience consumption. This enables us to identify and support insight on specific publishers and audiences that feature in our marketplaces.

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? 

We’ve already started to realise the benefits of additional datasets available, and it’s opening new avenues to insight, driving better planning and activation decisions, for example:

  • Budgeting decisions: Audience granularity including geography, lifestyle and ethnicity is helping us better understand nuances between social platforms in a fair and comparable way, meaning we’re able to guide appropriate platform budgeting decisions across our client base to reach audiences more effectively
  • Competitive insight: Daily data and overnights. Faster and more granular access to data allows us to understand share-of-market changes at pace because of advertising campaigns or events

  • Programmatic Marketplaces: Audience granularity is aiding our programmatic marketplace curation to ensure more meaningful audiences and contexts for our clients’ display investments

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? 

When it comes to how people consume media online, the pace of change over the last decade has been dramatic to say the least. Trend data is always helpful, but more meaningful data is essential to the decisions we make today – so a reset in methodology and data to ensure the most meaningful insight is a sensible trade-off over maintaining inconsistent and less relevant 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?

Our goal is always to invest our clients’ budgets in the most meaningful way to deliver on their objectives. Audience measurement and insight data naturally informs that decision-making; we say it’s in publishers’ and platforms’ interests to be part of the audience measurement solution, with tagging ensuring they are represented most accurately.

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

We’re pretty obsessed with data so I’m going to do my best to narrow it down!

Breadth of ‘platforms’: understanding audience measurement of emerging and growing platforms including:

  • Connected TV (Smart TVs, set top boxes, TV apps)
  • Assistants (Alexas, Google Home, Siri – both voice and display led)
  • VR and AR (Oculus, The Metaverse…!)
  • Search (Richer search behaviour)

  • Metrics: capturing the metrics that matter:
    • Attention – enabling a consistent methodology to publisher and platform attention
    • Video – enabling video stream consumption
  • Dimensions: more ways to cut the data:
    • Audience - even more granularity of audiences across age, demographics and more
    • Journeys – understanding consumptions patterns beyond overlap
  • Connectivity: more ways to connect across media channels:
    • Creating symbiotic data sets that can be fused across other channels to understand consumption overlap

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

The sheer scale, diversity and breadth of change in UK digital media consumption warrant tailoring to the market. As a global business, pan-market comparisons are also important to multi-market brands – I think there is room for both in-market and cross-market tools to co-exist. This is especially true where a tailored solution delivers a better view of UK audiences.

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?

Havas Media Group built [its planning and buying platform] Converged to do exactly this. The breadth and depth of tools across our insight, strategy, planning, activation and measurement mean it’s critical to have systems, connectivity and interoperability of audience data through direct connections, fusion and proprietary modelling techniques. As such, we would see the integration of more data sets, like Ipsos iris, as adding even more depth to Converged and in turn, our planning process for clients.

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?

Newsbrands are important publishers in the digital ecosystem. Consistency across Industry standards reduces complexity and improved collective understanding – and therefore is incredibly valuable to us, and how we plan across online and print ecosystems.

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 think we could all do with a break from being attached to our phones for a month. I imagine it would be quite a challenge but also strangely cathartic to remove the constant tech addition from my hand! The first thing I would switch back on would be WhatsApp, the one app that is constantly pinging with messages from friends, family and colleagues.

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