The pressure on advertising planners to prove that their strategy will deliver the required return on the clients' budgets has never been more acute.
And the degree to which campaigns are now assessed by auditors may be in part responsible for this. Exposure is not enough anymore - a successful campaign must now engage consumers.
Brands are hungry for consumer interaction, and a host of media innovations, such as digital poster technology, are making smart planning and great creative even more effective. In this context, it is odd that the media industry continues to rely solely on measures of media effectiveness such as opportunities to see or hear, in order to plan activity.
With this in mind, we have invested in a project in London that we hope will help evolve thinking and attitudes within the planning world and ultimately improve advertisers' investment returns. We have developed a methodology that adds value to the traditional measures of reach, frequency and ratings, by including a vital, but hitherto missing ingredient: how much time people are spending with advertising messages.
By adding exposure time to the equation we have created a scale of 'share of mind' or, as we call it, 'captive message time' (CMT) that media achieve against London audiences. The result is a far more meaningful picture of how likely it is that communications will actually engage consumers.
Comparing our CMT data with figures for different media's share of London advertising spend is startling - there is a huge discrepancy between the way money is spent on media in the capital and the amount of time consumers are spending with advertising on those media.
Analysis along these lines shows, for example, that while TV accounts for 53% of London media spend, it only commands 21% of CMT. Radio performs well, with a CMT similar to that of TV at 19%, but wins only an 8% share of media spend.
Interestingly, outdoor advertising in London accounts for only 24% of media spend, yet London Underground alone commands 31% of CMT, with roadside 48-sheets and roadside six-sheets accounting for a further 2% and 3%.
We believe CMT is a powerful guide to the real impact of advertising communications and should be the starting point for a fresh debate about media measurement. The need to engage consumers with your message will not diminish, nor will the need to prove you are doing so effectively.