What: Multicultural Audience Measurement experts offer Portada insights around the problem of audience under-representation.
Why it matters: Measurement firms under-represent multicultural audiences by as much as 25%, which causes a negative impact in media investment and produces overall flawed results.
Audience measurement has never been more complicated, as cultural nuances and consumer behavior shift and change, and the proliferation of new technologies demands multi-channel strategies. The task is even more difficult when it comes to measuring multicultural audiences. Experts tell Portada major measurement firms under-represent these audiences by as much as 25%. If this is the case, the media budget for targeting multicultural audiences should be substantially higher than it is right now. Just for Hispanic marketing, Portada estimates overall expenditures of US 6.07 billion in 2019. However, if firms under-represent audiences by up o 25%, media expenses could increase by up to US 1.5 billion. Admittedly, this is a back-of-the-envelope calculation. Nevertheless, it highlights the importance of accurate multicultural audience measurement in satisfying clients’ needs, and its potential for the multicultural media industry.
The lack of a common audience measurement currency in multicultural audience measurement impacts media investment levels negatively.
For many years now, companies like Nielsen and Kantar have offered advanced TV audience measurement. However, competition has increased. New players offer digital solutions that claim to be more comprehensive. This forces the bigger players to think of new ways to keep up with how audiences move and evolve. Inconsistencies between reported data reveal the lack of a common audience measurement currency in multicultural audience measurement. Hence, there’s a negative impact in media investment.
Furthermore, marketers’ biases lead to incorrect data interpretation. In turn, this leads to bad consumer experiences and negative overall results. How can we expect to move the needle if we can’t even tell where it is? In order to find out more about how to face these challenges, we talked to experts who understand how audience measurement impacts media planning and buying: Dana Bonkowski, SVP, Multicultural Lead at Starcom; Mebrulin Francisco, Managing Partner, Sr Director, MPlatform, GroupM; Nelson Pinero, Senior Digital Director, Senior Partner at GroupM; and David Queamante, SVP, Client Business Partner at UM Worldwide.
Audience Under and Over-Representation
All interviewees agree that multicultural audiences are still under-represented by major measurement firms. One of the reasons for this, explains Mebrulin Francisco, is the lack of insight into how audiences behave. Francisco mentions as an example all those times when data providers collected data on Hispanics. But once her team digged deeper, they realized the majority of Hispanics represented were English-dominant. This is a big issue because “it means the data is not representative of all the Hispanics in the U.S., creating a blind spot,” she says.
The same has happened in the other extreme, where you can have over-representation of Spanish-dominant consumers, creating a blind spot for Bilingual or English-dominant Hispanics. “This is especially the case within sets that depend on cookie level data,” Francisco explained. “If this is true for the Hispanic segment, which is the largest among multicultural consumers, think about the under-representation of African-American or Asian segments. Many data providers do not even report on these multicultural sub-segments.”
Language preference won’t singlehandedly define and capture an audience. So, in many cases, a large portion of a given audience is not captured.
Therefore, the first thing is having a representative sample of the audience. It might seem obvious, but in the words of David Queamante, “Unless measuring companies take the time to ensure they are gathering information from a representative sample of users, they will under-count multicultural audiences by default”. This represents a challenge. As Dana Bonkowski mentions, “engagement with culture-driven content is often the best signal to identify whether or not a person is ‘multicultural’. But language preference won’t singlehandedly define and capture an audience. So, in many cases, a large portion of a given audience is not captured.”
Multicultural Media Consumption is Elusive
Marketers have long assumed that a universal approach can reach audiences. However, “in doing so they fail to identify key nuances in motivations, attitudes, and behavior across consumer segments leading to an incomplete marketplace assessment,” explained Mebrulin Francisco. In the case of multicultural consumers, it’s even more complicated to hit the mark: Since datasets are limited, firms “do not flag multicultural consumers accurately and do not provide a holistic view of the brand’s performance, blurring meaningful insights,” said Francisco.
Multicultural media consumption is concentrated on certain outlets that [aren’t always] included on measurement companies’ surveys and reports. Therefore, multicultural media consumption may seem to ‘disappear’.
Moreover, multicultural audience measurement is rarely accurate. Why is that? As David Queamante explains, “Multicultural media consumption is concentrated on certain outlets that may not always be large or prominent enough to be included on the measurement companies’ surveys and reports. Therefore, multicultural media consumption may seem to ‘disappear.'” Besides, as Queamante mentions, not all measurement companies offer surveys in Spanish. This oversight considerably reduces the representation of Spanish-dominant Hispanic audiences, for example.
Privacy Issues Complicate Measuring Even More
This new era has brought significant advantages. For example, we can measure whatever happens as long as it happens online. However, the fact that it’s now easier to use and collect data as also brought up important privacy issues. Nelson Pinero predicts: “With audiences paying a little bit more attention to how and which personal data is being shared, it will become a bit more difficult to reach a diverse audience.”
However, this is already a reality. Media buyers and agencies are working together around the problem of accurate audience measurement. But “what follows now is all part of the balancing act between data and the years of experience that allow the media buyers to react dynamically to market conditions and to, ideally, optimize plans,” adds Pineiro. “Audiences will take more control of how they are reached, and agencies trying to find the right audience will need to cross-reference their deterministic/probabilistic data to enhance plan performance.”
What Happens Now?
The obvious prediction is that data science will become even more important in the digital world. “Measurement is the new black,” declares Mebrulin Francisco. “As we push towards a data-driven age in marketing, science, quantification, and data are going to continue to be a cornerstone of decision making. If I cannot measure the impact of my investment, understand my audience impression on a site, or reach potential, it will be very hard to make a case for using a partner.”
Start building out multicultural and cultural expertise in house to accurately represent these audiences in your data streams.
Moreover, the immediate future is inescapably multicultural. Marketers need to use art to harness the power of all this data in order to represent audiences accurately. Experts like Mebrulin Francisco believe a good way to start is with first-party data. “If you are in the audience measurement space my recommendation is to start building out multicultural and cultural expertise in house to accurately represent these audiences in your data streams.”
When asked for her views on the future, Dana Bonkowski shared the hope that “marketers invest to better understand the business-building power of multicultural audiences. More than 30% of all Americans fall in one or more ‘multicultural’ audience buckets. The question should be “How can you afford not to invest against better multicultural audience measurement?”