Mike Wilson: Beware agency bosses touting attribution ‘black boxes’

By MCN | Sponsored
Paul McIntyre and Mike Wilson

Cross-channel measurement is advertising’s looming existential crisis and any agency leader that claims to have cracked attribution is probably bending the truth, according to Havas Media ANZ chief executive, Mike Wilson.

Speaking at MCN’s PartnerFronts, Wilson said the future of media agencies – possibly advertising itself - is dependent upon proving that advertising works.

And crucially, how it works.

That is currently not the case, with agencies reliant, to a degree, on guesswork, Wilson admitted.

“Until we are at a place where we can accurately gauge the impact of [cross channel media] combinations, it will be very difficult to be accurate about our estimations and forecasts,” he said.

Wilson said Havas’ investment in data analytics through recent acquisitions and partnerships enabled it to give clients “some validation” about its recommendations.

However, he conceded that all agencies are “playing catch-up” on measurement. Suggesting otherwise is, at best, disingenuous, according to Wilson.

“If any agency leader tells you they have the black box that gives you all the [attribution and measurement] answers, they’re probably stretching their capabilities,” he said.

As all brands become content creators and media further fragments, the measurement challenge facing agencies is exponentially compounded, Wilson warned.

While machine learning might help crack attribution, Wilson suggested human learning might be equally important. He called for industry collaboration “in a spirit of partnership, on a continuous basis” to help provide “certainty of investment” for clients.

“That,” he said, “is how science works, isn’t it?”

Watch more from MCN:

Frontier’s Dan O’Brien: Shifting product is video’s universal metric

Simon Ryan: TV networks must deliver addressable advertising to remain relevant

Danny Bass: TV king of brand building, industry must articulate sales impact

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