CMDC puts the brakes on research

The Canadian Media Directors Council is crying 'uncle.'

The Canadian Media Directors Council is crying ‘uncle.’ Overwhelmed and overburdened by the amount of media and consumer research coming in, the industry group has called for a moratorium on new research until a special committee is able to determine the needs and requirements of media buyers.

The new CMDC committee is headed by Hugh Dow, president of Toronto’s M2 Universal. Sunni Boot, president of Optimedia Canada, and David Harrison, president and CEO of Harrison, Young, Pesonen & Newell, both of Toronto, round out the membership.

Dow says the two main goals of the group are eliminating duplication from the many sources of audience and product data available in Canada, and standardizing data parameters.

Data duplication, he says, is currently costing both buyers and sellers money, time, effort and frustration. For example, he says, Print Measurement Bureau (PMB) studies have now expanded to look at broadcast media usage, while BBM Bureau of Measurement research now measures print media habits.

‘We are being inundated by research information, much of which is repetitive and duplicates existing data,’ says Dow. ‘That has been fine, but we’ve reached a situation in Canada where we’ve got to re-examine our research and data requirements. We’re trying to get some sense of sameness and get the costs of research and duplication under some control.’

The subscription cost to syndicated data providers such as PMB and NADbank, Dow says, is just one cost implicit in each new research study that comes into an agency. Company IT staff also have to install and network the data and media planners and buyers have to be trained how to use and analyze it.

The committee’s focus on eliminating duplication is news to the research community, but the initial response seems to be one of cautious co-operation.

‘I’m aware that there is duplication in the industry, with product data in particular,’ says PMB president Steven Ferley. ‘PMB is generally regarded as the gold standard for product data in Canada. We would certainly co-operate in whatever way suits the Canadian industry best.’

The purpose of the CMDC initiative is not to establish a new media research entity or eliminate any of the current industry and third-party research suppliers, assures Dow, but rather to take the best of all the research and find a way to merge it into one usable database.

Right now, the project seems to be heading towards obtaining uniform standards that would permit ‘data fusion,’ or the seamless integration of several different databases using common variables across demographics, media usage, product purchase habits and lifestyle.

The CMDC committee is currently meeting with media owners to ask for their support. The group expects to have an outline of how to proceed by the end of the year.

‘This is a role that’s perfect for the CMDC,’ says Dow. ‘It’s an opportunity to show some leadership and represent the buying and advertising community in terms of what our current and future data requirements are going to be.’

The Quebec Media Directors Council (QMDC), the Association of Canadian Advertisers (ACA), and the Institute of Canadian Advertising (ICA) have already thrown their support behind the initiative.