I am inspired by a column of the director, Stef Peeters, of our JIC (Joint Industry Committe) CIM (Centre for Information about Media) in Belgium and I totally agree with his point of view.

Increasing numbers of media and advertising professionals believe that traditional audience figures are falling well short as tools for strategic and tactical communication planning. And why is this? To put it briefly: the world has changed.

Today, socio-demographic information is no longer sufficient for identifying a target group. In their search for the maximum return on investment, Consumer Centric Holistic Measurement could be the ultimate resource for advertisers. With an integral vision of all possible (above and below) contact points with the consumer, it would be much easier to fuel communication planning and put together the most efficient contact mix. Online analytics promised a complete analysis of click-through rates — online conversion to offline lead generation. Could this be at last a glimpse of what the consumer really does over time?

Unfortunately not. There is no ultimate integral study of all the communication channels in existence. The most ambitious attempt at single source research, from communication to purchase, has proven to be technically and financially unfeasible.

But there is hope. Interest has been rekindled in small-scale holistic research per sector or per brand. But not as in the past — taking successive snapshots of the consumers. The aim is to put together the consumer (decision) journey:

  • How does the consumer decide?

  • How is his or her experience built up over time?

  • Which steps and interactions are decisive?

  • Which communication channels are most suitable in which phase?

Today more than ever, producing correct and relevant audience figures in a cost-efficient way has become a challenge. Acquiring representative sampling despite a falling response and increasing costs, or combining cost-efficient questioning methods without jeopardising continuity are on the agenda.

But more is needed to provide an answer to the cross-media questions occupying us today. The story of newspapers can only still be understood today if paper and online are looked at together. Besides “traditional” Internet surfing, the online and offline use of content apps and widgets must be gauged. The press audience and other studies of the CIM in Belgium are accordingly being thoroughly revamped.

Just about all large media houses have in the meantime have become multimedia players (the largest number of monomedia members of the CIM nowadays comes from … the Internet sector). They have every interest in not only having reliable information per medium. They also want to be able to follow their content across their different channels. They want a multimedia analysis of their customers.