By Ethan Jakob Craft, Published in Ad Age.
The brainchild of IPG Media Lab and Magna, the new Innovation Velocity Gauge shows ‘territories’ like blockchain and cross-screen measurement in the lead
The concept of “innovation” can seem difficult to measure, leading IPG Media Lab and Magna to create the so-called “Innovation Velocity Gauge” comparing just how rapidly more than two dozen industries are evolving relative to one another.
Emerging technologies, also referred to as “innovation territories,” can grow at wildly different speeds, said Richard Yao, IPG Media Lab’s manager of strategy and content. The new gauge will fill the “one missing piece” that has proven to be a hiccup in the industry’s efforts to track, and visualize, just how those sectors evolve, he said.
“‘Metaverse’ has been on our radar since 2009, but the last year was really a breakout year for it,” for example, Yao said. Indeed, all things metaverse had a moment in 2021, and that attention from both consumers and corporations is reflected in the Innovation Velocity Gauge; it’s ranked 10th among the 27 tech-driven verticals analyzed in the tool’s inaugural run.
Leading the pack in first place is “cross-screen measurement”—hardly a surprise given long-dominant Nielsen’s measurement stumbles that came to light early in 2021, which have since opened the door for a crush of cutting-edge competitors to make inroads with legacy media giants like NBCUniversal and ViacomCBS. Industry groups, including both the Association of National Advertisers and Video Advertising Bureau, have also echoed calls to expand the use of comprehensive, alternative measurement currencies.
The No. 2 innovator on the list is “blockchain,” which has generated significant buzz this past year not just for its ties to cryptocurrency but also as the technological basis upon which non-fungible tokens are created, stored and traded.
Rounding out the top five are “visual search” in third place, “machine learning” in fourth, and “digital finance” in fifth. The tail end of the gauge includes digital health, over-the-top broadcasting and wearable technology, whose collective pace of innovation was on the slower side because they’re currently past their initial growth spurts.
How is innovation, a subjective idea that has little definition from industry to industry, being measured?
“We wanted to help kind of put some data behind— put some speed behind these innovation territories,” said Brian Hughes, executive VP, managing director of audience intelligence and strategy at Magna.
To do that, the gauge looks at three key metrics: social listening, which includes tracking keywords and mentions of certain sectors across social media; media analysis, using the frequency of certain article topics in both consumer-facing and trade news publications to see what’s making headlines; and proprietary ad spending data, which Magna’s already familiar with thanks to its robust data and forecasting capabilities.
To paint a fairly accurate picture of innovation across more than two dozen tech-based disciplines, Yao emphasizes that metrics are weighted on a case-by-case basis. “It’s not one-third of this, one-third of that,” he said.
For example, Yao continues, buzzworthy “innovation territories” like gaming and the metaverse have gotten lots of consumer attention recently and are prone to score near the top of Magna and IPG Media Lab’s social listening analysis; meanwhile, the average TV viewer isn’t talking much about “cross-screen measurement,” which gets lots of press in trade publications but isn’t generating much mainstream social media discussion.
That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s innovating slower than the widely known likes of virtual reality and podcasting—in fact, cross-screen measurement is moving faster than both of those, according to the gauge. And to reflect that, it’s imperative that all data points are not compared and weighed equally across the tool’s 27 very distinct sections.
The Innovation Velocity Gauge does not have a baseline zero where different “innovation territories” can be judged as excelling or falling behind, Hughes confirmed; instead, each point on the gauge is measured on a relative scale and then placed against each of the 26 other points.
The creators of the gauge plan to update it annually, eventually using each gauge as a standard to detect changes by comparing it to the subsequent year’s gauge, he said.
“Because this is the first year we’re doing this, our hope is that next year, we have this as the baseline and we can compare year-over-year growth,” Yao added.