Forensic media planning
The new forensics of
media will change how we evaluate media, just as forensic DNA
revolutionised criminal investigations.
The introduction of
forensic DNA in criminal investigations in 1985 revolutionised the
field. Before this date, crime scenes relied on much patchier
evidence. If the criminal wore gloves, there'd be no fingerprints,
so any astute crook could avoid the only sure form of
identification for someone unseen.
Dr Henry Lee, one of
the world's foremost forensic scientists, calls 1985 a turning point in criminology.
"DNA proficiency has made revolutionary contributions to forensic
science," Dr. Lee says. "In the forensic world, its impact has been
felt as profoundly as the discovery of fire and the invention of
the Gutenberg press.
breakthrough in the 1980s, innovations and new applications have
occurred with breath taking speed. Advances in miniaturization and
microchip technologies have been combined with the analytic
techniques of DNA analysis to give us impressive new capabilities.
DNA science has solved crimes considered otherwise unsolvable."
Those of us fortunate
enough to lack personal involvement in crimes can look on from the
side lines, fascinated by the advances, and the iterations of the
science. It is a popular form of fiction. There's always a CSI on
somewhere on the Sky EPG and modern crime fiction dominates
literature sales on an ongoing basis.
reporting of real crime is fascinating too and new developments
continue to improve accuracy and precision.
In 2009 crime scene
evidence from the tragic death of
Sierra Bouzigard in Louisiana led
police to investigate a crew of undocumented Mexican workers
because of a call made from her mobile. There was DNA evidence too
at the scene, all the police needed was a match. But none of the
suspects matched the evidence, nor was there any match in the FBI
database. The investigation stalled until 2015 when a lead DNA
analyst Monica Quaal found a way of conjuring up a physical
likeness from the DNA which didn't require a suspect or a match.
This process, known as phenotyping, produced a completely different
suspect pool - the murderer was now believed to have freckles,
light brown hair and green or blue eyes, of Northern European
ancestry. The case is still ongoing, but the police are still
investigating and have been knocking on a completely new set of
doors, thanks to this new development in forensics.
Media planners are
faced with a step change in the amount and quality of evidence they
can use to make the case for strategic decisions for a client's
Our industry must
expect to feel challenged by the new technology, but also to find
that the new forms of data evidence open up new avenues to decision
making. As we move away from proxy audience data, however robust,
to big data sets with real time and location evidence, new
strategies will emerge in established categories. Just as with DNA
how the evidence is applied is crucial to the outcome. And just as
with DNA evidence the effectiveness and efficiencies of the data
today will continually evolve. Sticking with the old ways of
planning won't do. Nor will shifting from one established process
to another unflexible one. An openness and agility that allows for
continual re-evaluation of strategic approach is crucial.