Monitoring the ad market in a digital world

Ebiquity CEO Richard Basil-Jones talks ad monitoring in a digital world.

By James Manning

Major advertisers come to Ebiquity when they monitor the Australian advertising market. The business digitally monitors almost 15 million competitive ads per year for its clients across television, radio, newspapers, magazines, online banners, digital video and outdoor. Ebiquity captures the creative for every single advertisement, reporting on where and how often a brand campaign appears.

In addition to its ad monitoring and analysis services, the company also undertakes media benchmarking which evaluates media performance on behalf of brands to make sure their investment in media is as effective as possible.

Ebiquity is welcoming the arrival of new IAB mobile data. “If I had a dollar for every advertiser that said they’d like some more transparency and accountability in the digital world,” Ebiquity CEO Richard Basil-Jones told Mediaweek.

“We are pushing harder and really developing our benchmarking digital product. It is growing and it’s going to take off very soon. Our digital is really starting to get some momentum now.

Something that really excites us is performance optimisation, our media effectiveness business. We haven’t operated it in this business until now. We are talking to clients and providing proposals. This is about working the return you are getting on every dollar spent. What we have is based on three years of sales data, economic data, promotional – as much information we can get around a brand to try to really establish what the return is for that expenditure.

“That is going to become a big deal for us and we are putting a lot of weight behind it. We are listening to our clients and they are asking a lot of questions. We all know digital is valuable and a vital part of the media mix, but no one has really quite worked out how important it is and what actual return they are getting from it.”

The ad monitoring division can be tracked all the way back to 1981 when it was operating under the name Television Register and was a library for TV ads.

Basil-Jones said back then a client rang up wanting to see an ad, and the agency or a client would be sent a videotape via courier. “Now an advertiser or agency might ring us with a list of 50 or 75 ads they want to see. Several minutes later we would have created the link and emailed it and then they have the ads.”

Television Register was later acquired by Extreme Information and later Extreme was acquired by Ebiquity. The company is listed on the London Exchange and is proud to call itself an independent. “Often we hold agencies and agency groups to account and it is important for us,” explained Basil-Jones.

The media benchmarking and consulting dates back to 1989 when Eric Faulkner launched his business which was acquired four years ago by Ebiquity.

Basil-Jones said the media benchmarking consulting business, the old Faulkner Media Management, accounts for about 60% of the turnover. There are about 55 staff in Sydney working at Ebiquity Sydney.

On the ad monitoring side we work with about 100+ major advertisers which is a real who’s who of the ad market. We work with all sorts – mainly advertisers but there are a lot of agencies, media and creative, plus government departments and trade groups. On the other side in media benchmarking we have around 65 clients and they are all major advertisers.”

In ad monitoring, advertisers have a few options, so what drives clients to Ebiquity? “In ad monitoring Nielsen is the major currency when it comes to who is advertising and how much. The difference between Nielsen and us is that Nielsen is very much a measure of media spend in the marketplace. We are more about the creative – we start with the ad. Which ad broke first and what medium did it go on and where did it appear and how often? We build our service with the creative and then work up. Nielsen are more a media focus, we have an ad creative focus.

“We add some insights and we are all about speed to market and our service is about what ads broke last night and appeared today. The advertisers that are typically working with us use it as a competitive monitoring service they can tap into every day. They are looking to see what ads appeared where, when and with what messaging. They keep track on what their competitor is doing.

“We create lots of executive summaries for clients to get that information into their hands quickly.”

Ebiquity has offices in 14 countries, plus they also have preferred suppliers, which expands the Ebiquity network to 70 countries. “For any ad monitoring business, coverage is a critical piece of it. How much, how many radio and TV stations, how many newspapers and magazines, what outdoor do you cover and what digital?

CV: Richard Basil-Jones

Basil-Jones has been with Ebiquity for three years after moving across from a long career at Nielsen. “I was with Nielsen for over 20 years.” His most recent role there was looking after Nielsen’s Asia Pacific business.

“I have a lot of respect for Nielsen and it is a terrific business. One of the things we can do and they don’t have is speed and flexibility. They are the Queen Mary coming down Sydney Harbour, but at the same time you don’t want to get in the way.

Our strength lies in our ability to move fast and it’s one of our selling points.

Basil-Jones noted that in media benchmarking Ebiquity has one major competitor – Accenture. “We go toe-to-toe with them.” Some market estimates put Ebiquity at nearly twice the size of Accenture.

In the ad monitoring space Nielsen dominates and is a clear market leader, conceded Basil-Jones. “There are a couple of other smaller players, like us, that play around in a slightly different field with a slight overlap.” Although he noted Nielsen’s leadership, Basil-Jones added, “They won’t dominate forever.”

Ebiquity isn’t full of Nielsen staff, but just lately that changed with the arrival of Peter Cornelius. “In the last month Peter arrived and he is a terrific guy. He has so much experience in the marketplace and when the opportunity came up to bring him into this business I moved quickly.”

Cornelius looks after Ebiquity’s media consulting and benchmarking group. “He has settled in well and is loving it and doing a great job.”

Social Media

Social media is an add-on service if Ebiquity clients want it, but Basil-Jones noted it is a challenging area. “There are a number of companies that do it and we are one of them. There is just so much information to consider. A lot of companies use social media as a warning system alerting them to any potential problems.”

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