Results tagged “Measurement” from IABlog

Just before Valentine’s Day we held an industry town hall style conversation in San Francisco on the romantic topic of mobile and cross-screen audience metrics and measurement.

Before an audience comprised of members of the IAB Mobile and Tablet Committees, and the Research and Ad Ops Councils, a diverse panel of experts shared what their companies are doing around mobile and cross-screen measurement, what buyers want from metrics, and areas where this part of the mobile ecosystem needs to improve.

I want to thank my great group of speakers, including:

  •  Yvonne Chou, Product Management, Ads, and Monetization, Flipboard
  • Anne Frisbie, VP and GM, Global Alliances, InMobi
  • Graham Mudd, Director, Advertising Measurement, North America, Facebook
  • Steve Yarger, Head of Mobile, Trulia

Particular thanks to the folks at Trulia, who kindly let us use their event space for this conversation.

One topic we discussed was the traditional view of “reach” as an important metric—and the question of whether simply being the biggest was still a valuable differentiator for a network or media company.  The answer seemed in general that, yes, scale matters to ad buyers.  But raw, undifferentiated, mass-audience scale is not as valuable as it once might have been.  So InMobi, for example, tends not to talk about its raw reach number, but rather a smaller number (though still a big number—759 million) that counts only those end users for which it has some user-level targeting capabilities.

And of course where reach goes, so goes frequency, and to some extent duration as well.  I wondered (devil’s advocate-style) whether the age of audience buying meant that the good old GRP (reach x frequency) was obsolete.  None of the panelists really felt that way—indeed they all felt that there was increasing need for standardization of GRP-type metrics, for digital (including mobile) and then for cross-screen as well.  Making Measurement Make Sense deserves great credit for coming as far as it has, but the panelists agreed (and I think most 3MS participants would as well) that they still have a very long way to go.  Ad sellers are increasingly hearing demand from agencies to buy based on Nielsen OCR or comScore VCE, and see a role for IAB to help ensure those and any other GRP-style metrics are a sound basis for transactions.

And on the cross-screen frontier, there is a lot of interest, but a lot of concern as well. Vendors helping establish bridges between PC and mobile audiences are great, but some on the panel worry that they are either not transparent enough (or there’s no good way to validate their accuracy) and that on the consumer side there is not enough disclosure yet. Users need to accept and expect what you’re doing with their data, goes the sentiment, and with cross-screen data aggregation, there’s a risk of backlash from not-yet-informed or aware consumers.

Capping this part of the conversation I asked about the future of metrics and Alex from Weather said (half serious half in jest, I think) that we need an industry standard around cross-screen view-through conversions.  He’s probably right, but that’s an intimidating project.

Another point of metrics agreement among all five panelists was that clicks still matter too much in mobile.  First off, we shouldn’t even be calling them “clicks” or using the acronym “CTR” at all—in mobile the term is “taps.”  So even getting marketers talking about “tap rates” would be a minor victory.  But the major victory would be moving them from talking about taps to identifying and using better, deeper metrics to judge whether their messages are working.

I’ve been a proponent of trying this for some time, indeed IAB’s been on the “down with CTRs” message on desktop for ages.  But one interesting thing that came up in the town hall was that specific verticals have metrics they like, that they feel have proven (at least in terms of conventional wisdom) correlations to business results.

The two cited were:

Media and entertainment: movie studios look at trailer completion rates, believe a higher completion rate correlates with better box office.

Pharma: pharmaceutical companies look at the number of ad viewers who go three-clicks-deep into the content about a given drug. There’s a belief that people who do that are much more likely to go on to talk to their doctors and possibly get a prescription.

I am intrigued by these “magic metrics”—I’d like to start a collection of them for other verticals.  There’s a huge  value to simple, relevant, consistently defined metrics, especially if those metrics have an accepted correlation with actual leads, sales, or other valued business results.

Making mobile measurement make sense (which I’ve already heard referred to half-jokingly as “4MS”) is very much on the Mobile Center’s mind this year.  This town hall  was the first, but certainly not the last, industry conversation we’ll be facilitating, and Metrics and Measurement is going to be big at our upcoming Mobile Marketplace conference on April 7 here in New York.  I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts on these issues, either there or in other venues later in the year.

About the Author

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Joe Laszlo

Joe Laszlo is Senior Director, Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence, at the IAB.

 

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Buzzing About Measurement Standards

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There is definitely something to be said for the industry blogosphere, the trade publications and the thinkers out there contributing ideas. Recently, there have been a number of pieces about ad impressions and changes in the works including IAB’s involvement in creating new standards and comScore’s introduction of verifiable impressions.

A perspective that is extraordinarily consistent with Making Measurement Make Sense (3MS) appears to be developing. 3MS is the ecosystem wide partnership among IAB, ANA and the 4A’s that seeks to define standard metrics for planning, buying and evaluating digital advertising in a cross platform media world. 3MS aims to make digital advertising more brand hospitable and to facilitate the right brand media allocations by providing tools that marketers, agencies and sellers need to improve workflow and transact more easily.

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Larry Allen of 24/7 Real Media, published a piece in Business Insider, We Need A New Way to Define Ad Impressions. Much of what he puts forth was and is under consideration throughout the 3MS process. The notion of capturing duration of impression in view is one example and is part of the first phase of pilot testing currently underway. That is, the ecosystem recognized that duration is an important metric. Moreover, if display advertising impressions are going to be comparable to television, we need a solution for measuring duration in view.

Larry writes about the imperative of developing metrics that capture what is uniquely interactive about display ads and how those metrics can contribute to assessing the value of an ad. All of these, too, are part of 3MS. There are five guiding principles that are at the heart of 3MS and five solutions that are the soul of 3MS. We believe in the principles and we believe in the testing and sequencing of the solutions.

For now, we are testing the definition of a viewable impression and the inputs for calculating GRP’s and reach and frequency. We are also testing an ad classification and taxonomy that will create standard constructs and dimensions of ad units. This will facilitate both transactions and developing evaluation metrics.

The fourth and fifth solutions, standardizing interactivity metrics that matter for brand building and improving the measurement of online ad effectiveness for brands, will be the focus of the next stage of Making Measurement Make Sense. We need the foundation of an accepted definition of a viewable ad impression that can be accurately counted and assessed for its impacts on inventory, site optimization, consumer experiences, etc.

Larry and everyone else in the ecosystem just need to hold tight a little longer. We’re getting there. But until then, please keep on thinking and writing — and please feel free to check in with us!

About the Author

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Sherrill Mane

Sherrill Mane is SVP, Research, Analytics and Measurement, at the IAB.

 

Drifting Away from the Realities of the Media Business

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iStock_000000736447XSmall.jpgThe IAB loves Doug Weaver. Our members love Doug Weaver. Doug speaks at our conferences. I personally have nothing but the highest regard for Doug and have agreed with much of what he has written and said over the years.

Last week, he wrote a surprising piece in his blog, The Drift. The piece entitled, “The Myth of Digital Measurement” is well written, but stunningly out of synch with the realities of competitive media selling - and ignorant of the work the industry is successfully prosecuting to make measurement make sense.

Doug builds his argument on four “facts.” Unfortunately, it is his facts that contain myths. Let me detail his errors- and then tell you how a united marketing and media industry, led by the IAB, the ANA, and the 4A’s, are going about addressing marketers’ need for actionable measurement standards in digital media.

In his blog posting earlier last week, Weaver argued that, “Fact One: Digital is Permanently Dynamic. Not only do digital capabilities constantly evolve, but the pace of that evolution is constantly accelerating. Which leads to……Fact Two: ‘Measurement’ Can Never Keep Up”. By Doug’s reasoning, digital media are separate from other media for the long term because their measurement is a myth. This kind of thinking keeps us forever on the experimental lines of big brand ad budgets. Finding a way for brand advertisers to evaluate digital media in terms they understand and can use to justify investments, by definition, does not either stop or deny innovation nor dynamism.

In “Fact Three”, Doug writes about being onto the next things as soon as something becomes stable enough to be measured in a scalable way. And, he links that to commoditization. The reason other media, particularly television, have avoided commoditization is because they built simple, transparent currencies for the basics and then dedicated resources and creativity to proving why a rating point was not equal all the time in every piece of content.

Commoditization happens when you lose sight of how to prove value. In a world of intangible goods and services and make no mistake, the selling of advertising and the placing of it are intangibles, the smart money is on differentiation through measurement. Without a baseline, you cannot be different or better than something else. Metrics determine benchmarks and baselines against which to differentiate and to do so in transparent degrees of magnitude. Differentiation permits markets to ascribe higher and lower value.

In his “Fact Four” Doug makes the point that “Measurement Supports What We Already Want to Do” and he mentions that marketers use research for support rather than illumination. Perhaps that is true for some. I have seen quite the opposite since the IAB, ANA, and 4A’s launched “Making Measurement Make Sense”, facilitated by the consulting firm Bain & Company and the strategic advisory firm MediaLink. I have been in the room with marketers who believe in digital media’s power to build brands, marketers who want insights and want to understand how to use digital media better. These are not people looking to substantiate dusty old models; these are people who want tools to show that innovation pays.

Had Doug looked into Making Measurement Make Sense and had he talked to either the IAB, the ANA or the 4A’s about the who, what, when and how of this groundbreaking collaboration, he would have been pleasantly surprised. More than 40 senior executives, business leaders, functional experts and thought leaders, from across the ecosystem, have come together to define metrics and currency that facilitate cross platform transactions and also to identify the metrics that put value on elements of interactivity that contribute to building brands. Moreover, the fundamental underpinning of this initiative is to develop a structure for a measurement governance body that will manage change, develop standards, and provide a rapid mechanism for cross ecosystem business needs to be addressed by measurement systems.

Doug, dear colleague, please rethink how measurement, currencies and markets work in disruptive times.

Sherrill Mane is Senior Vice President, Industry Services, at the IAB.

Things We’re Thankful For

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In honor of Thanksgiving, we thought we’d assemble a list (not in rank order) of the things we’re thankful for in the world of interactive advertising.

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  1. We just had the best quarter ever for interactive advertising, and year-on-year revenues have been on a sustained upswing for the past four quarters.
  2. There are myriad challenges still ahead—they make life in the workplace interesting AND they’re good for IAB job security.
  3. 2010 is the year when consumers embraced mobile media wholeheartedly.  So we can finally stop talking about when “The Year of Mobile” is going to happen.
  4. There are always new surprises in digital: 12 months ago, who (outside of Steve Jobs) suspected the iPad would be device of the year?
  5. We know where all our friends are, all the time, whether we want to or not (thanks Foursquare!).
  6. Convergence is happening, in the form of a commingling of the excitement and innovation of digital media with the discipline and marketing expertise of traditional media.
  7. We’re lucky to work in an industry with so many good eggs among the people (at vendors, publishers, agencies, and marketers alike) with whom we interact.
  8. Most of the good eggs are also really smart eggs.
  9. 2011 is the year we will finally make measurement make sense; at the very least we can fix the 15 years of chaos and get ahead of the massive changes still ahead of us.
  10. As an industry, we openly recognize that it’s time to get beyond bad creative (ugly ads), and we’re making collective progress in the aesthetics that drive successful advertising.

- Sherrill Mane and Joe Laszlo

Sherrill Mane is Senior Vice President for Industry Services at the IAB.
Joe Laszlo is Director of Research for the IAB.

Nielsen & The Measurement Mess: Why We Need a Fix Now

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Last Thursday, we learned that for some time now, Nielsen has been undercounting Internet usage. Nielsen informed clients in a carefully worded message that the company is investigating an erroneous decline in its Internet usage data. The notification went on to say that Nielsen would be working closely with the Media Rating Council (MRC) on remedying the situation. Last week, Ad Age covered the Nielsen story quite clearly.

What is remarkable is that while for approximately eight months Nielsen clients have been alerting Nielsen to the fact that inexplicable, counterintuitive declines in usage have been occurring, the company chose to investigate and communicate findings at its own unacceptably slow pace. When Nielsen did communicate that the data that have been out there for months are wrong, the sophistication and good citizenship shown by working with MRC were appropriate.

All of this begs the question of why doing the right thing happens so very slowly and poorly in today’s ecosystem? More importantly, what can we do to rectify the situation? A voluntary governing body, a FASB (Financial Accounting Standards Board) like MRC with broader empowerment by the entire industry could make a significant difference. For example, an organization like that could have a three month rule, that is, if data appear wrong for three consecutive months across multiple sites, the measurement service producing the data would have to communicate that the numbers are off and explain the steps being taken to rectify the problem.

The latest news from and about Nielsen online measurement just confirms what we at the IAB and our partners at the ANA and the 4A’s already knew: measurement is in dire straits and will stay there unless and until we as a community fix the process. Next time too few people are using the Internet for too little time we should not be looking at almost a year’s worth of bad data and trying to assess the damage.

More on this story from today’s Ad Age »
More on Metrics from the IABlog  |  Previous commentary on Governance in Measurement

Sherrill Mane is Senior Vice President for Industry Services at the IAB.