Anyone would think the media industry has collectively responded to the Central Office of Information's latest campaign to attract recruits to the teaching profession.
But instead of running around headless, we appear to have become obsessed with maths, or, more specifically, measurements. The number of industry bodies revamping their audience systems must now have reached a record high.
Witness this week Kelvin Mackenzie's renewed tirade against Rajar over its perceived delay on introducing electronic measurement systems. He says Rajar is controlled by vested interests. They say more testing is needed.
Over in TVland, Barb continues the completion of its new audience measurement systems. The Newspaper Marketing Association is calling for adland to work together to develop new methodologies to assess the effectiveness of newspaper ads. The subtext seems to be that the methods of measuring press campaigns are not casting newspapers in the light they'd like and over in the internet space, the Internet Advertising Bureau is working with the Independent Publishers' Association on new standards to allow online media to compete more effectively with offline.
Our new-found addiction to measurement is a symptom of a wider condition: First, the ad recession. The past three years of downturn have gone on too long for most media owners. Every sector wants a bigger share of the ad pie. And one way to prove you deserve it is to have someone, anyone, measure out a bigger slice for you. Second, the moves made both by media owners and industry associations toward more detailed measurement methodologies is driven by the inexorable march of technology.
Technology is now invading every aspect of media measurement, and it is to be hoped that, some day, all the bravado and simple human error associated with older systems can be set aside in favour of instantaneous, accurate and fair figures. And in the case of Rajar v The Wireless Group, technological measurement has to win out in the end, because any system that removes human error must be made to work.
Any new systems need testing and re-testing and, crucially, these systems need to be developed with one eye on the concept of integrated measurement. The ultimate for media planners and buyers is a common standard, a point of comparison between mediums based on cost per thousand.
A future where cross-media campaigns can be bought at the touch of a button and response measured in the same day may sound far-fetched, but there is no reason why our obsession with measurement shouldn't lead us toward this goal. Technology can do whatever we want it to - ultimately it's up to us to make the decision and go for it.