Call for Synopses: Programme Chairman’s Review





Call for Synopses – Programme Chairman’s Review

New Opportunities in Disrupted Media Markets


The pace of change in media markets continues to accelerate, affecting all players in the media ecosystem – media owners, media planners, media distribution networks, content aggregators, content creators, media researchers, advertisers, marketers, ad tech specialists, consumer electronics manufacturers, cloud and data centers, investors and of course, consumers. Over the past year, we have witnessed several important developments:

  • The largest digital distribution platforms (Facebook, Google, Apple) have further consolidated their power as intermediaries between publishers and their audiences and demonstrated their ability to dominate digital advertising markets and create walled gardens* for their data.
  • Media owners have followed the consumers’ migration to online video. This has created new storytelling formats, new ways of representing traditional media brands and new ways of capturing digital video ad revenues; but it also has raised the bar for comprehensive cross-platform, cross-device, cross-screen measurement.
  • Continued growth of mobile devices has given marketers increasing opportunities to connect directly with their customers without the involvement of media – a trend that surely will continue as we move further into the era of the “internet of things”. On a mobile device, what is the definition of media?
  • Media planning and advertising sales continue to shift in the direction of programmatic automation and real-time bidding, with negative consequences for the advertising rates available to publishers. Against this, however, the recent rise of header bidding technology has allowed publishers to auction their premium inventory to the highest bidder, thereby restoring CPMs.
  • The measurement of viewability and of fraudulent non-human web traffic continues to vex all players in the digital advertising ecosystem. Industry estimates indicate the continuation of staggering levels of waste and loss due to fraud.
  • Ad avoidance, long an issue for linear television, has become more salient for digital media as more consumers have installed ad blockers, recently facilitated by large software and tech equipment manufacturers. This arms race has added even more complexity to the ad serving and measurement environment. As a result, many of the major newspaper and magazine publishers in the UK and the US are experimenting with systems that refuse to serve content to consumers who deploy ad blockers – thus providing a new twist to their long-running problem of making optimal use of pay walls.

While publishers and media research agencies continue to strive toward more accurate accounts of their unduplicated reach across all platforms and devices, evidence regarding the audience for the old-fashioned print format continues to be mixed, with some print brands expanding and others declining. Interestingly, both surveys and sales data suggest that the US book market is shifting toward higher demand for printed books and stagnant demand for their digital equivalents.

In sum, even the disrupters are sometimes getting disrupted, while some of the established market players are finding new opportunities in the transformed media landscape. There has never been a more important time for publishers, agencies and researchers to shape the future of journalism in its written, photographic and video manifestations.

*walled gardens: self-contained digital environments (platforms) that limit options for independent third-party measurement and thus require advertisers to rely on platform owners for accounts of ad exposure and engagement.

Symposium Themes

Against this fascinating backdrop, the next PDRF Symposium will convene in Madrid in October of 2017 to hear new research from around the world and debate the implications for media measurement and business models. Synopses are invited on any of the topics noted above, but also on the following:


  • Publishers as Data Partners: How are publishers taking advantage of their first-party relationships with their readers and audiences? How are they sharing data with clients while protecting user privacy? How are data partnerships, matches, and overlays being leveraged? How are we managing the problems of data quality? How does the effort to monetize publisher data affect the perceived value of traditional audience research provided by traditional measurement agencies?
  • Surveys, Big Data and Data Integrations: Surveys are frequently criticized for being outmoded and unreliable, but a growing body of scholarship suggests the continued efficacy and predictive power of well-designed surveys using random samples. But in fragmented media markets, such “gold standard” methods are often seen as un-affordable. How well do hybrid models retain the quality advantages of traditional samples, while harnessing the granularity and scope of massive flows of real-time behavioral data? How rigorously can we test the quality of these hybrid systems to assure their validity?
  • Digital Ad Supply Chain Corruption: The digital advertising ecosystem depends upon a complex set of data elements, many of which have been shown to be faulty. What is the state of our understanding about how to improve that situation – increasing viewability rates, reducing the incidence of bots and non-human traffic?
  • Programmatic, Transparency and the Age of the Algorithm: With so much “information” about audience locked into “black boxes”, how do we provide transparency in the marketplace? How do we evaluate quality? Does it still matter? What does “audience” mean in this new data driven context?


  • Trends in the Consumer Uses of Media Platforms: The media narrative, often based on anecdote, has been that print is declining while digital platforms are growing, but the empirical evidence has been mixed. What trends are being seen in different markets in the balance of print and digital audiences? To what extent do these represent generational (cohort) shifts? How do they compare to claimed changes in consumption of video entertainment or of other media?
  • Publishers as Video Producers: How successful have publishers been at exploiting the public’s appetite for video? What evidence do we have that video has broadened audiences and/or enhanced engagement for existing audiences? How successful have publishers been at monetizing their video? How is the measurement of video fitting into existing measurement systems? How are we verifying video ad audibility, initiation rates, completion rates, video player size, and other indicators of video ad effectiveness?
  • Ad Avoidance: How are publishers and platform providers addressing? What are we learning about audience requirements? How can we stop the arms race?


  • Measuring Reach & Frequency Across Platforms, Screens, Devices: How are impressions being tallied across the ecosystem and then converted into estimates of unduplicated reach and frequency? How is the gap between the traditional R&F paradigm and the less-exacting “gross impressions” paradigm being managed? How is media planning adapting to the limitations of current audience measurement?
  • Measuring and Monetizing Engagement: What new approaches are being tested to quantify engagement? How are biometric and neuroscience-based techniques being deployed? How are time-based compensation models working for publishers? How are publishers quantifying the value of an ad being in the media brand’s halo? How are they quantifying the advertiser value of specific contextual ad placement (editorial adjacencies, time-based insertions, etc.) either in print or digital platforms?
  • Special Problems of Measuring Mobile: Consumers of digital media continue to shift from desktop to mobile devices, but measuring exposures to mobile media and advertising presents special challenges as both iOS and Android evolve. What new approaches are being used and what do we know about their efficacy, validity and reliability? How is measurement of mobile being integrated with legacy systems? How much does mobile drive us from text to video? How does this affect measurement?
  • Is the Promise of Digital Metrics Overstated? It is often claimed that digital media are more targeted, more precise and more accountable compared to ‘legacy’ media. Part of this claim is derived from supposedly superior ‘built in’ digital metrics which are said to compare favourably to outmoded OTS measures. What evidence is there to support or refute these claims?
  • The Future of the JIC: JICS have governed the development of media measurement in many markets for decades. But now that the entire ecosystem is under severe financial pressure, will cooperation among competitors survive? Can we still accommodate ever-longer shopping lists of requirements with the imperative to drive down costs? How are data users assigning fundamental value to audience currencies? What are the implications of walled gardens for JICs and all third-party measurement and auditing.
  • Local vs. Global Media Measurement: Though the growth of digital media has accelerated a trend toward globalization of marketing and advertising metrics, many media markets remain very much local or national in their character. How do we balance the requirements of local vs. global audience measurement – while keeping research costs in line with what local markets can support?


  • ROI and Attribution Models: What new progress is being made in measuring advertising campaign effectiveness and associating it accurately with upper-funnel media contacts? How are our notions of the consumer path to purchase changing? How do we capture all of the various influences on purchase and brand choice and give them due weight in our models? How are econometric methods evolving to meet the challenges of a complex media mix? As a user of these approaches, what are the most important questions I should ask of my vendors?
  • Beyond Advertising: How are agencies working with publishers to develop new forms of marketing – native advertising, sponsorships, experiential, hybrids? Is it possible to work with clients to devise marketing plans that do not require media?


  • Capturing New Consumer Revenue: What have we learned about new sources of consumer revenue – through pay walls, line extensions, premium content, tiered subscriptions, and other strategies?
  • New Advertising and Content Formats: How are advertisers, agencies and publishers adapting their content and storytelling approaches to engage jaded and avoidant consumers in this ever-more-complex ecosystem? What approaches are succeeding and which are failing? How important is content marketing to the current publishing business model? How well do sponsored content and native advertising perform in the advertising mix?
  • Being Social: Social media serve as amplifiers and distribution platforms, but also as gatekeepers and toll takers. How are publishers managing these complex “frenemy” relationships? How is publisher content accessed through social media platforms being measured by third-party measurement systems? How are social media metrics being evaluated by ad agencies? What do we know about the correspondence between social media metrics and other measures of media engagement, affinity or brand equity?
  • The Elephant in the Room: Evidence continues to build that the growth of digital ad revenues does not offset the losses from the sustained decline in print ad revenues. Besides cost cutting and restructuring, what new equilibrium business models are in prospect for legacy publishers?
  • Improving Research Practice: New work on issues of perennial importance to media and advertising researchers – field experiments, methodological innovations, best practices leading toward validity, reliability and research quality.


To submit a synopsis (or an idea for a panel discussion or a suggestion for new topics and/or speakers), please send your submission to Jenny Davis at by 31 March 2017.  You can reach Jenny on the telephone on +44 (0) 20 8185 4773. Please limit your submission to a maximum of 300 words. Please include the names of the authors; their organizations, positions, emails, telephone numbers and postal addresses. Also please indicate the degree of completion of the proposed study and/or the likelihood that it will be completed by August 2017. As in the past, favorable consideration will be given to papers that include data and/or results from new studies. However we also welcome theoretical and opinion-based submissions which break new ground or offer fresh insight into any of the issues mentioned above.