December 2009 Archives

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.