Three takeaways from the Mediatel Media Research Awards



Lumen sponsored the Mediatel Media Research Awards at a real-life, in-the-flesh event at Banking Hall in the City of London yesterday. It was lovely to see so many smart and talented people in the same place at the same time.
Three themes emerged from the winning papers:
1) Turning a research lens on the media industry itself. The runaway winner of the day was the PxC/ISBA/AOP programmatic supply path investigation, which added three more gongs to their total, including the grand prix (Sam Tomlinson and his team are going to have to build a bigger trophy cabinet).  Their study looks at wastage within programmatic infrastructure, and has come up with some fairly shocking results: even after their forensic analysis of where the money goes in programmatic, 15% of the budget remains unaccounted for. What’s interesting about this research is its internal focus and its practical application. We all find it fascinating because it addresses a pressing and personal problem – and provides actionable solutions we can all put in place.
2) Streams not studies. There were many interesting and valuable ad hoc projects presented at the awards, but the some big prizes often went to on-going projects that would give clients a stream of data over time. JCDecaux/Posterscope/Clearchannel’s paper on the effectiveness of out of home relied on ongoing datasets rather than one-off studies to great effect.
3) Tools rather than insights. Some of the most exciting ideas were on display within the paper with, frankly, the most boring title. OMD’s Structural Equation Model for smarter insight generation described how the team had developed a scalable tool, written in R and brought to life in Tableau, to help media planners get to robust insights from diffuse and confusing datasets. Give a man a fish (or an insight), you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish (or fish for insights using a structural equation model), and you feed him for a lifetime. 
Congratulations to all the winners, and well done to Steve, Anne and everyone at Mediatel for putting on such a wonderful event.