Stop bashing VOZ, it'll be worth the wait... honest
Leader of Australian media agency Involved Media, Sarah Keith, says the TV industry's favourite past-time of bashing cross-screen measurement platform, VOZ, needs to stop.
VOZ-bashing has become a popular pastime in media and advertising circles. Almost three years after OzTAM and the TV networks announced their grand plan to create a new total TV audience measurement system by stitching together viewing on TV sets and connected devices (smart TVs, desktop/laptop computers, tablets and smartphones), we are still waiting for useable data. The chorus of complaints about the delay keeps growing, as do doubts that VOZ will ever see the light of day.
Some of the complaints are legitimate, but much of the scepticism and criticism is mis-placed. Worse, it is very unhelpful. It’s time to stop complaining about the delayed arrival of VOZ. It’s time to focus on how good it will be when it gets here. It’s time for everyone – the TV networks, media agencies, the research sector and marketers – to stop sniping and start talking up the benefits of VOZ (yes, the name is terrible, so changing that might help… and that is advice, not criticism).
OzTAM says VOZ will deliver a step change in the way Australian television is measured and evaluated. It is right. VOZ is the gold standard cross-screen measurement solution that will better demonstrate the reach of TV content and make life easier for the people who plan and buy advertising.
When OzTAM first revealed VOZ on 30 July 2018, one of the TV network bosses said: "Today's announcement gets us much closer to capturing real audience numbers, and will give brands invaluable insights into how audiences engage with premium long-form video across the many different screens now available to them.”
Those insights, of course, still haven’t been delivered, for a variety of reasons. The latest update from OzTAM is that its subscribing clients will start receiving daily VOZ data from June. There is still no word on when VOZ will include full post-campaign reporting capabilities, or when the TV networks will get their act together and set up a standard trading platform.
According to a recent Mi3 article, VOZ has already cost $20 million. Why so much? Because it’s a complex nexus of data, stitched together from many different sources. Some of these sources have dragged their feet, creating delays. COVID created delays. Rigorous testing and retesting (which is a good thing) has created delays.
Eliminate the negative
But this is getting too negative. Right now, we need to focus on how we can help each other get VOZ launched, operating fully and delivering the benefits we all know it can deliver.
There are other datasets which can deliver some of the information that VOZ promises. Can Automatic Content Recognition (ACR) be used to help accelerate the rollout and embedding of VOZ? Is Samba part of the solution? It has ACR technology integrated at the chipset level across 20 of the top smart TV brands analysing the content on screen in real-time, regardless of its source.
Rather than throwing the occasional brick, media and marketing people need to pitch in and help. Most of the networks’ reps on the OzTAM board are extremely talented research people, but let’s get some sales and marketing experts on the board. They could help create a compelling narrative around VOZ, as well as counter the negative media VOZ attracts.
We also need to help the networks put aside their deep-seated rivalries and agree on a trading platform for VOZ. It must be independent. We need something that works for everyone in order to avoid a repeat of the BUYTV debacle which has since been sunk two years since its announcement. “It was another squabble that ultimately makes no sense for the industry,” said one industry executive familiar with the scenario. “Nine’s Michael Stephenson had the right idea but there was no way rival networks were going to go for it.”
The networks need to get their marketing and comms in order. They must explain to agencies and clients, simply and clearly, why VOZ has taken time to launch, and why it’s going to completely change things in the industry when it does roll out fully. They need to paint a simple and compelling picture here. OzTAM has proven that marketing is not its strong suit, so the networks need to take charge.
It really is time to stop complaining and start actioning. We’re getting close to a VOZ launch, but there are things we can do to make it better. Ditch the them-and-us approach and start working together. We’re so close.
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