ISBA’s Cross-Media Measurement Project Origin Moves into Build Phase

Tim Cross 18 May, 2022 

UK advertising trade body ISBA has announced that Origin, its initiative to build a cross-media measurement platform, has entered its build phase. ISBA has set aside two years for the build phase, anticipating that it will undergo final testing towards the end of 2023, before going live in 2024.

This build phase will see Origin create and test a minimum viable product, whilst also finalising strategic arrangements among project members. To do this, Origins secured £11 million in funding for over 40 different organisations including 40 brand advertisers, six media agency groups, and eight media owners and platforms.

Origin was first announced in 2019 in response to the World Federation of Advertisers’ (WFA) call to establish basic principles for working cross-media measurement. Origin’s major aim, at least initially, it to provide deduplicated total reach and frequency measurement across different screens and broadcasters. Further capabilities, things like frequency optimisation and outcome measurement, may be layered in after the product launches.

Since an initial consulting phase which lasted until around September 2020, Origin has been in its second phase. This has involved figuring out a methodology for measuring deduplicated reach and frequency across different screens and media owners, and running initial tests to judge whether those methods would work in practice.

During this phase, the WFA released a technical framework for a ‘Virtual ID’, which enables deduplication in a privacy safe manor. Origin ran proof-of-concept tests to show whether such a model would work with real data, and found by-and-large that the results surpassed expectations.

Now, with these proof-of-concept tests complete, the building work can begin. ISBA has chosen Accenture to manage this phase and build the cloud-based technology infrastructure for Origin, while Kantar will build the panel, and design the aforementioned Virtual ID model. ISBA will work to build a product which can be integrated with the media ecosystem including data agencies and digital ad platforms. Origin will establish data interfaces with each of these partners to make its data as accessible as possible.

“We’re delighted to see Origin’s ambition to be a global prototype for accountable cross media measurement come closer to realisation,” said Phil Smith, director general of ISBA. “This is a top priority for advertisers globally and Origin continues to be led by the WFA’s Framework and North Star, with a solution that brings together common, global components and local market requirements.”

Keeping the door open for broadcasters

During phase three, ISBA says it will focus on onboarding selected media owners and advertising, which will include conversations with broadcasters.

An issue which has dogged Origin for a while is that many broadcasters aren’t really on board with it’s core aim. While few broadcasters will come out and say that they don’t want advertisers to be able to measure total reach, the reality is that they’re worried about how such a metric might be used. If advertisers start optimising towards this total reach metric, they could pull money away from TV, given its higher cost, towards cheaper digital inventory.

Origin’s line has always been that it’ll be up to advertisers how they use that data, and that the vast majority will still appreciate the unique impact of TV even if all impressions are essentially counted as equal within the total reach metric.

ISBA has always maintained a positive tone, and kept the door open for broadcasters. But the balance of businesses which are funding phase 3 – geared much more heavily to the buy side – suggests that broadcasters still aren’t fully sold.

There is also still a longer term question to be answered about how Origin will be funded once it’s up and running. Earlier this year ISBA launched a consultation on the idea of an ad levy being used to fund the product – the trade group hasn’t yet announced what the results of this consultation have been.

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About the Author:

Tim Cross is Assistant Editor at VideoWeek.
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