How advertisers are taking the Ekam challenge

With the feeling that Google and Facebook are too big to push for a third-party unified digital measurement system, Flipkart, Uber, Oyo and DHFL Pramerica Life discuss the challenges in rolling out Ekam, its weaknesses and the way forward

Neha Kalra
New Update
How advertisers are taking the Ekam challenge

As the proposed unified digital measurement system, Ekam, gets delayed because of the reluctance of several platforms, including Google, to get their content measured in a transparent manner, large and mid-sized advertisers too feel helpless in front of Google and Facebook as they are too big to push.

Ankit Agarwal

When asked why advertisers are not forcing the platforms to let Ekam happen, which is also capable to fight ad fraud and brand safety, Ankit Agarwal, Head of Digital Media and Performance Marketing, Uber India, South Asia, said they can’t push a Facebook and Google to build a new metric for the brand -- they’re too big.

“It is always a battle with the Googles and Facebooks of the world. As marketers, you might challenge them, but you also have no choice but to work with them. So it is also a tricky one for marketers as well,” he said.

In a series of commentaries published over the last two months, wrote many times how Google is throwing its weight around and not agreeing to give Ekam any access to its content and hence blocking its way. What it implies is that we’re Google and you have to take what we give you. Google chose to remain silent when asked if it is like a channel is saying if my GRP is not 200, do not report my data.

Pranav Agrawal

Pranav Agrawal, AVP, Online Marketing and CRM Head, Oyo Hotels and Rooms, stressed the need of a measurement system like Ekam and said that it definitely adds value for insights that we already have.

Rahul Pandey

The biggest problem is that no party wants to share their data, according to Rahul Pandey, Digital Marketing Director, Flipkart. “Like the airlines have a ‘no fly’ list, you commit one mistake on one airline, you are banned across all airlines. So in that scenario, all airlines agreed to provide the information to a central aggregated agency that can distribute the information. In this case, none of the business owners actually wanted to share any data with anyone, because it is some sort of customer data of the company,” he said.

Except for performance marketing, brands across the world are struggling with non-transparent digital measurement. While everyone is talking about growing video consumption through mobile, there is not a single unified measurement system for a piece of video content. If you are running a piece of video content on different platforms, you will have to add all the viewership data given by those platforms to know the efficacy of that video. That data is also a relay log and hence aggregated data. What is the industry doing about it, besides the hullabaloo of the exponential growth of video consumption?

To this, Ankit Agarwal of Uber, said, “I don't think digital measurement has evolved to a point where it is as good as performance marketing like you can say cost per order. Like, how do you justify value for impression on Facebook versus Google versus Twitter? In the TV world, every TV impression mattered equally, prime time versus non-prime time. But in digital, it’s not really that case.”

Where really is Ekam lacking?

Anshuman Verma

“The challenge is that the eco-system is very large, and because there are so many parties in it, getting consensus and getting it to work will take time,” said Anshuman Verma, Chief Marketing and Digital Officer, DHFL Pramerica Life Insurance.

According to Uber’s Ankit Agarwal, making all the stakeholders agree to one metric is an uphill task. “You’ll still never reach on one metric that everybody aligns with. It is not in the interest of Facebook and Google to align with a metric that BARC is suggesting, and vice-versa. If Google says that a six-second video is the best format, obviously BARC is not going to align with it. The worlds are so different. You can’t put a six-second spot on TV. So that’s why, from my point of view, there will be no one metric for media consumption or video consumption.”

Pranav Agrawal of Oyo thinks that BARC has launched this platform, but there is no awareness about it yet. “BARC has not reached out to us yet, and haven’t reached out to the masses and helped us understand the benefits of it. Once the brands understand the benefits of it, there would be no debate of accepting it or not accepting it. I think the problem to solve here is the awareness about it,” said.

What is the way forward?

Flipkart’s Pandey thinks that the industry needs to find out a way where a certain kind of signal is in a marked format or any other right invention to collect the data which could be shared with an aggregator or a central agency or BARC. "Such an agency could create a central repository, saying that certain patterns are happening in e-commerce. And all advertisers and publishers will receive messages from BARC, saying that they need to be aware of fraud happening on the platform and take action against it,” he said.

“We definitely need to move towards a situation where we start sharing this kind of information with each other as well as a central agency, then only we can solve this or else we will keep working as silos, and the fraudsters will take advantage of that,” Pandey said.

Verma of DHFL Pramerica Life is confident that Ekam will happen in due course. “It’s just a matter of time, one has to be patient and continuously push for it,” he said.

“If you look at print and TV, they have gone through an evolution period. There was the diary method and then there were more and more sophisticated methods of measuring. Not only the measurement, but they also got certain safety rules for process and accuracy. Similarly when you are talking about online advertising, what is now proposed as a standard will take its own time,” explained Verma.

Ekam challenge