2008 Audience Measurement Recap

Quality. Simplicity. Transparency. These demands were loud and clear at the IAB Audience Measurement Leadership Forum on December 8 in New York City. Marketers, publishers, researchers and ad agency executives came together to make strides understanding how audience measurement methodologies and the new IAB Audience Reach Guidelines could help them collectively achieve better business practices and drive more business.

As he set the pace for the day, IAB President and Chief Executive Officer Randall Rothenberg warned of scaring off marketers with too much complexity and complication and called on attendees to drive change. “Don’t let the perfect drive out the good,” he said. His comments are featured in a 3 Minute Ad Age video—“IAB CEO Rants against Audience Measurement Complexity.” His sentiment was echoed by Sherrill Mane, Senior Vice President, Industry Services, IAB, and chair of the event. She also expressed appreciation to all the IAB Audience Measurement Working Group members who participated in drafting the guidelines.

Audience Measurement Playlist

The story of complication and confusion in audience measurement is similar to the legendary tale of Alice in Wonderland. Proposed by Joe Laszlo, the IAB’s Director of Research, Alice explores the new world she finds down the fox-hole much like a marketer may explore audience measurement for the first time—enamored with the possibilities yet hesitant about the unknown and unexplained. “We should try not to make her think we are crazy. Be nice to her. Offer her quality, transparency and simplicity. Speak her same language,” he encouraged while laying the groundwork for a day spent navigating the measurement landscape. This presentation is available for review.

Measurement of emerging platforms—digital video and social media—was thoroughly explored with the guidance of panelists representing some of the major players in the respective fields. During the digital video marketplace panelist Adam Gerber, Chief Marketing Officer, Quantcast, shared from the stage that just that same day Quantcast announced that both Broadband Enterprises (BBE) and Hulu adopted Quantcast services. He joined other panelists Dave Osborn, Senior Vice President, Product Leadership, Nielsen Online, and Tania Yuki, Senior Product Manager, comScore, Inc. as they each shared their firm’s unique value proposition in 10 minute segments and then took questions from the audience, including one on how the current privacy debate was impacting their work. Jon Gibs, Vice President, Media Analytics, Nielsen Online, Jim Nail, Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer, TNS Media Intelligences/Cymfony and Ian Swanson, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, Sometrics, covered the social media landscape, sharing methodologies and visions of their organizations and the social media platform in general. Social media as an advertising or a public relations function was a point raised during the question and answer session. The panelists agreed that public relations, marketing and customer service all have a stake in the social marketing front –blurring the lines between the silos.

The IAB Audience Reach Measurement Guidelines took center stage after the networking lunch. Rick Bruner, Head of Research, North American Sales, Google, and Kate Downey, Director, Audience Analytics and Insights, Wall Street Journal Digital Networks, talked through the three guiding principles of the document—transparency, reliability and consistency—as they covered the five key problems addressed within the document, then dismissed attendees to breakout rooms to participate in the first-ever live public comment feedback session. Their comments will help shape the future of the industry. The complete synopsis presentation is available.

Digital video and social media found a way back into the conversation as cross-platform measurement was debated during “Tracking Your Viewers across Platforms” moderated by Joe Mandese, Editor-In-Chief, MediaPost. The expert panel covered everything from why viewers consume media on select platforms to behavioral targeting issues and panel verses server and hybrid measurement options.

Panel discussion carried over into the next session. George Ivie, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, Media Rating Council, who also addressed the audience earlier in the day about the guidelines release, led a group of experts as they picked apart the tactics behind panel measurement. What is a panel? How are participants recruited and rewarded for participating? And, how is the data collected? These are all important questions to address as the role of panel measurement expands and links with offline data to form a more comprehensive picture. Joel Rubinson, Chief Research Officer, ARF (Advertising Research Foundation), clarified and provided an example of how definitions play a role in the complexity of comparing metrics. He likes the word ‘humans’ better than ‘consumers’ because humans aren’t always consuming. Sometimes when they see media they are just going about their business. Definition standardization plays a major role in the IAB Audience Reach Guidelines.

As the day wrapped up, group leaders from the earlier collaborative public comment workshops surrounding the guidelines release came together to present the feedback. The comments will be considered as the document is prepared for final release. Suggestions and observations included questions about how the guidelines will be disseminated to the masses, the frequency of guideline updates, the drop-off of the 30-minute time frame in visit calculations and the impact of these guidelines on already existing IAB guidelines.

The full day of education and dialogue was followed by cocktails and networking. Attendees were joined by sponsors, sparking intense dialogue on how audience measurement metrics are changing the way marketers make decisions and how working together drives business and success.