Results tagged “metrics” from IABlog

The Moment of Truth Is Upon Us

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“All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them”

— Galileo Galilei

Galileo’s quote is timeless. In life and in business, the journey—the process of discovery—is the hard part. In life, it is also frequently the beautiful part. In business, getting to that crystal clear, diamond sharp piece of insight that just simply dazzles is the hard part. Making money using it is usually quite simple.

In today’s busy world, where businesses seek short cuts and lowest possible costs and where vested interests often overshadow the best interests of all concerned, discovering truths seems like an overly lofty aspiration. Why expend financial, intellectual and time resources when the status quo, as imperfect as it is, is tolerable?

In digital measurement, why upset the chaos that sometimes cloaks itself as innovation? Why seek truths when various conflicting facsimiles of truths that cost money and render the supply chain inefficient are already part of how we do business?

Ultimately, we pay a high price for not investing in the discovery of truths about measurement. Total media spend could increase by a net 2% or $8 billion (on a 2010 base) in cross platform spend. Interactive advertising spend could increase by as much as 10% if we uncover the fundamental truths of measurement.

In the coming weeks, IAB general members will be called upon to support the cross ecosystem measurement initiative we have been previewing for some time. The opportunity for a coalition of marketers, agencies and media sellers to define the metrics and systems needed to do business efficiently is upon us. The ANA, the 4A’s and the IAB are partnering to develop the next generation of measurement and have selected an independent third party to facilitate the discovery of measurement truths.

This is the moment to embrace Galileo’s thinking. This is the moment to finally discover simple measurement truths that will allow for the right media allocations to flow through a simplified supply chain. This is the moment to invest in the best interests of the entire ecosystem.

We urge you to generously support the effort to discover the simple truths of measurement.

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

Source for estimates: various studies and forecasts developed by Ernst and Young, 2010.


The Very Visible Consequences of Bad Methodology

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For the record, interactive media are growing and transforming the way people communicate with brands, with content and with each other. What interactive media do not need is badly executed and poorly reported research. The media themselves already resonate with consumers and the marketing ecosystem.

What specific piece of poorly executed research prompted this? On December 13, Forrester released its North American Technographics Report to great fanfare. Much was made of a finding that simply does not synch up with everything we know using other data sources. According to Forrester, consumers reported that they spent 13 hours a week watching TV and 13 hours a week using the internet in January and February of 2010. Fanfare surrounding the purported parity was nearly matched by the furor over the fact that all other data sources show nothing of the kind. For the same time period, comScore reported that people spend 7 hours and 24 minutes a week using the internet.

The IAB does not need to shill for TV so the fact that Nielsen reports that TV viewing levels are in excess of 30 hours per week is not the point. The point is that we, the IAB and the overwhelming majority of members, stand for transparency and consistency in measurement. We sincerely believe that good measurement must be the barometer against which all media are evaluated.

Putting out numbers that confuse the already confused marketplace—numbers that are based on a methodology that every expert would say is inferior for the purposes of measuring media usage—serves no one. Self-reported usage data rely on consumers’ memories and on their desire to disclose what they do with media. Everyone knows that most people are using the internet at work and spending significant time doing so. We all know that being a “couch potato” is not perceived to be as cool as using new media. We know that people watch TV content on digital media. And, we know that most people are not sitting around making many of the distinctions about media that the professionals do. So why would we expect that people can accurately report their media usage using our artificial business distinctions?

A really thorough review of the Forrester study would also require thinking about the sample. Is it representative of broad population groups? Can the findings be generalized beyond the sample? These complexities are beyond the scope of today’s blog.

Planning and buying media for the purposes of marketing to consumers relies on what people do, not on what they say. To those who continue to confuse the marketplace, we say please consider the disservice you do to all of us. To those who accept counterintuitive information, we say caveat emptor.

Sherrill Mane is Senior Vice President for Industry Services at 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.


I’ve heard many opinions about DSPs, often exaggerated or misinformed. Therefore, I was looking forward to hosting the IAB’s Innovators Roundtable Dinner (IRD) on October 27 in New York, sponsored by Casale Media.  Marketers and agencies came together at Sparks Steakhouse (yes that steakhouse outside of which 2 mafia bosses were gunned down in 1985) for a lively discussion on balancing audience and environment in the age of demand-side platforms.

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Whereas a few months ago (and certainly last year), the discussion would have centered around answering the question what exactly is a DSP, the marketers and agencies at my table had already tested the waters and were ready to swap stories.  They had found demand-side platforms valuable for performance but limiting for branding with the caveat that it always depends.

For direct response, the ability of a DSP to target an audience results in impressive conversion metrics. Plus, DSPs help marketers define and zero in on audiences that they never knew existed by leveraging demographics and psychographics that match the marketer’s profile based on a myriad of data points. If the agency knows the sweet spot(s), media budgets can be better allocated to optimize conversions.

When the discussion turned to brand advertising, sensitivity to context and environment became a top priority. A DSP can help a marketer find soccer moms, but when is a soccer mom most receptive to the brand messaging? If an auto marketer wants to introduce a new SUV model, is that best done when she is reading general news, social networking with friends or even researching household products? Also, the marketers and agencies in attendance had a healthy dose of skepticism about the makeup of audience segments. For example, could a user flagged as a soccer mom by a DSP really be a single urban professional who just happened to click on a link to a parenting article?  Everyone agreed there is a role for finding audiences on DSPs, but it will never replace the need to target by the context and environment of the message as well.

The other issue that always seems to come up is ad verification, and this dinner was no exception. If an agency or marketer is focused on audience, where are the controls so the advertising does not appear next to inappropriate content? At the IAB we created Networks & Exchanges Quality Assurance Guidelines to provide brand safety assurances and detailed information for buyer control over ad placements through certified networks & exchanges. As a next step, we’re kicking off a project to allow technology platforms like DSPs to be compatible with these guidelines. The IAB is also launching a working group to develop guidelines for ad verification in collaboration with the Media Rating Council (MRC).

A few weeks ago, I was in the Bay Area (congrats Giants!) visiting IAB members, and I had the opportunity to tour the nerve center of a real-life DSP—Turn’s office in Redwood City. In the center of the office is a dedicated screen with a graph showing impressions bought and sold on exchanges in real-time. The total number of impressions transacted in real-time today is a small fraction of interactive media buying. However, as marketers and agencies realize the benefits of audience buying, this number will surely grow—but by how much?  Based on the conversations at the IAB Innovators Roundtable dinner, it depends on how DSPs and other intermediaries prove their ability to deliver brand messaging to audiences in context.

Gina Kim is Director, Industry Initiatives, for the IAB.


Taking Our Name in Vain

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Over the past couple of years, several IAB members have come to me with examples of measurement vendors claiming they have been endorsed, approved, or otherwise given the blessing of the IAB.  This bothers me, because the IAB is (and I hope it’s perceived as) neutral when it comes to vendors.  alert.jpgWe may specify guidelines or best practices for a given measurement, but we don’t take sides when it comes to the companies doing the measuring.  So if any vendor tells you they’re our BFF or whatever, you should push back (and let me know).

An even more insidious issue has come up lately related to the report Dr. Paul Lavrakas did for the IAB evaluating the methodology of certain types of Internet Ad Effectiveness research.  I’ve seen a couple of instances, and heard of still others, where vendors using methodologies outside the scope of Dr. Lavrakas’s report are citing that report as a way to validate themselves.  This is a terribly misleading assertion!  I want to strongly caution against this—as indeed Dr. Lavrakas himself does at the start of his report:

Dr. Lavrakas’s findings should not be used to validate or invalidate any methodology other than the ones he explicitly examined: i.e., long-form questionnaire-based surveys taken by samples of exposed and non-exposed consumers recruited via either online site-intercept invitations or via an online panel.

The statements I’ve seen boil down to “Methodology Y avoids sources of uncertainty identified in a review of methodology X, therefore methodology Y is better.”  Of course, this says nothing about other issues that methodology Y may have, which may be even more serious.  Wonky research people and born skeptics will know this instinctively and this kind of claim should raise red flags for them.  But folks outside the research community may be taken in.

I could name names in this post.  But I won’t.  However, I do want the vendor community to know that the IAB is being vigilant on this front—and we’d like you to avoid referencing Dr. Lavrakas’s report for marketing purposes.

Joe Laszlo is Director of Research for the IAB


The Ecosystem Demands It / Your Clients Demand It

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You’ve heard it before from measurement experts, media exec’s, and from me.  Today’s digital measurement does not serve our business needs and perhaps its undue complexity actually prevents digital media from achieving full potential as advertising media. As unprecedented change in what technology, media and consumers do together and with each other continues unabated, we are still fighting to establish constructs, metrics, measurement systems and workflows that should have been established more than a decade ago.

You’ve heard/read this before from us (how’s that for building frequency?), but, did you know that the advertisers are issuing a clarion call for Making Measurement Make Sense?  Yes, your clients and in trade association parlance, our partners across the ecosystem agree, in fact, demand that measurement and accountability improve.

In a videoblog posted on October 11, 2010, Bob Liodice, President and CEO of the ANA says, “Marketing effectiveness increases substantially when it is fully and completely accountable. In order to do so, we need fully accountable measurement systems “. Bob goes on to describe initiatives that are underway to improve measurement and thereby make marketers far better and far more accountable.

The one point that Bob does not elaborate on is that the IAB, ANA and 4A’s measurement initiative is as much about changing and reinventing a business process as it is about the specifics of measurement. Making Measurement Make Sense is platform agnostic since all media are digital.

Moreover, Making Measurement Makes Sense seeks to manage the inexorable change that we are witnessing as new devices enter the marketplace and creativity in consuming and communicating abound. Along with the ANA, the 4A’s and other potential partners, the IAB will continue to strive to establish metrics, systems and processes that make sense for today and tomorrow.

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


Promoting Differentiation Through Metrics That Matter

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Following the publication of my Op Ed piece in Ad Age Digital Next on September 20, entitled, “Why Measurement Is Still Screwing Up the Online Ad Business: The Problem Can Be Fixed, but It Will Take Your Help” (see the IABlog for the long version), my inbox filled with all manner of encouraging notes. Ad Age received some interesting comments as well.


Encouragement came from many quarters throughout the ecosystem and varied from high praise to offers to heed the call to action. On the less encouraging side, it seems that there a misperception by a few about the Making Measurement Make Sense initiative and how digital media measurement should look relative to other media. The misperception is that we advocate measurement that diminishes from today’s data and systems’ capacities to capture what is uniquely powerful about digital media.

In no way, shape or form, do we recommend decelerating the pace of transformation, innovation or the capacity of digital media and digital consumers to change marketing, media, content, brands and consumer relationships to them. If anything, we propose that all media be viewed as digital media and that digital media as we know them today have metrics, data, systems and standards that permit efficient transactions within and across digital and traditional media. The outcome to this process could well be changes to measurement for both digital AND traditional media. All options are on the table.

We openly advocate identifying and developing metrics and systems that will permit efficient transactions. This implies that digital media be in the consideration set for all media plans because digital media will be bought and evaluated in a manner that facilitates the right budget allocations.

The right budget allocations are the ones that work best for the brand at the time. Getting to them involves tools that permit evaluating all options within common parameters and finding the ones that stand out for the brand, the budget, the time…the ones that are differentiated and that permit the brand to be differentiated. Today’s convoluted digital-only metrics don’t so much differentiate interactive advertising as silo it away from the rest of the media world.

Each segment of the marketing ecosystem deals with differentiation in its day to day business activities. Most businesses do. The trick to understanding how an individual item is differentiated from others in a given category is having metrics with which to do so. To fully understand the richness and the power of digital media in the marketing mix, we must create a common language around metrics and measurement that permit identifying differentiating characteristics. That is what Making Measurement Make Sense will do.

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


IAB Metrics Blog Welcome Edition

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metrics-blog-header.gif As we close out the year, take stock of accomplishments and prepare for better days ahead, one of the few constants in the rapidly evolving interactive media world remains measurement troubles. Quite recently (Monday, December 7th), Ad Age featured a piece about a proposed change to Nielsen’s @Plan service and the vast data inconsistencies that change is causing compared to the old methodology.

The @Plan methodology change, now in beta, should be heralded as an improvement. It is fairly common knowledge that unobtrusive measures of behavior are more accurate than recall based measures. However, the reported inconsistencies tell us that something is really wrong here. Most likely, the current method is completely wrong in which case 10 years of data use and decisions based on that data are questionable. Maybe the new methodology is wrong or maybe it is actually right. Or, the beta is so full of bugs that the new data cannot be relied upon to provide an indication of what the numbers will look like. The uncertainty points to fundamentally flawed business approaches.

Buggy business, you say? Yes. One of the two syndicated measurement services introduces a beta of a new methodology and its clients are already leaking results to the press. The proposed @Plan change is sowing negativity even before it is released. What resonates is not the beta and not that it is likely an effort to improve measurements and not that the @Plan clients are leaking data from a test. What resonates is that interactive measurement sucks. Once again, as an industry, we are showing the advertising community that we are our own worst enemy.

The IAB represents the entire industry and advocates transparency among all parties. Clearly, some of the old rules of media measurement simply do not apply in a transparent world. Research vendors and their clients are accountable to all of the many sites that are not purchasing data when they change methodologies and talk to the press.

It is time that IAB members took advantage of the power of a community of business people who truly want to make interactive media live up to its promise of being most measurable and most accountable. We are that community. We, at the IAB, are who we serve and until the members, publishers and vendors alike, avail themselves of the leadership and power of community, we likely will continue to see public relations fiascos about flawed measurement well into 2010 and beyond.

This inaugural edition of IAB Metrics Blog invites you to dialogue with us, to praise or critique, to propose solutions. Most of all, we invite you to make the IAB the standard bearer in metrics that it is for many other areas of interactive advertising.