Media research may be improving in accuracy in silos, but
overall we are continuing to build the Tower of Babel.
According to the book of Genesis, the whole world once had a single language. And
because they had a single language, they really began to get somewhere.
The people of the city of Babel said, in essence: "Come, let
us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so
that we may make a name for ourselves."
Now, unfortunately for the people of the world, the Lord
didn't like what was going on. He is reported in Genesis as remarking: "If
as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then
nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go
down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other."
The world has, in fact, been pulled apart by
language. There are over 7,000 in existence, although most people
speak one of the 11 main ones. Translation has been big business for centuries
because there has been international trade for centuries.
Getting "on the same page" in terms of translation remains a
challenge, and the solutions—and the benefits—in anything from international
language to media research remain a vital, necessary work in progress.
For instance, in terms of language, although mechanical
translation has existed for some time, the result has always been regarded as less
Google Translate, however, is making sweeping changes to
mass market and democratic international communications, just as Google Search
did to libraries and e-commerce.
It works in a completely different way from previous
computer systems for translation; it doesn't simply give you the literal
translation for a phrase, it gives you the most likely translation given every
other translated expression that sits anywhere on the Web.
In September 2009, the White House issued the "Strategy for
American Innovation" policy roadmap to address "The Grand Challenges of the 21st
One of those challenges was the development of "automatic,
highly accurate and real-time translation between the major languages of the
world, greatly lowering the barriers to international commerce and
Google Translate is a revolutionary step forward in this
But regarding our own media research translation issues,
what has been done to bring forces together?
The head of our MediaCom
UK Business Science team, Jane Christian, said recently that media
measurement is still in silos and that this "is hampering its usefulness."
"Stakeholders for each communications channel are
concentrating on how best to measure the effectiveness of their respective
channels, given the techniques that big data and technology allow. The problem
here is that each technique is different and not comparable with the others, so
when marketers ask the question 'how should I allocate my budget across
channels?' there isn't a clear answer," Christian said.
"What we need is joined-up media measurement across all
channels," she continued. "Without it, all these big data driven measurement
solutions aren't as useful as they claim to be. Joined-up media measurement
will ensure we deploy our budget across channels most effectively."
We must then ask ourselves whether we are sitting in the
Tower of Babel, with little idea of how much better things might be in terms of
budget allocation and effectiveness if we had a lingua franca of