October 2010 Archives

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.


Recently, the European advertising community, lead by IAB Europe, publically condemned the “re-spawning” of cookies used in the practice of online behavioral advertising (OBA). We would like to recognize their leadership and take this opportunity to restate the U.S. advertising industry’s longstanding opposition to such practices.

There has been a recent spate of media coverage about the use of local shared objects, colloquially described as “flash cookies”, in the collection of data for the purpose of delivering behaviorally target advertisements to consumers. We have heard about advanced versions of such technologies, including Super, Ever, and Zombie Cookies. But whatever the name, one tenet of the industry remains clear, appropriate consumer notice and choice applies to all targeting technologies and techniques. This means that companies must always provide transparency to the consumer about their data collection and use practices and that third party OBA practices must empower consumers to exercise an effective choice.

Our industry has always endorsed technology neutrality in the application of best practices. IAB has long supported the Network Advertising Initiative’s mandatory principles which apply uniformly to all OBA practices, no matter the technology implementation. Similarly, the comprehensive new self regulatory program announced this week by the IAB and our partner trade associations program applies to data collection and use practices, regardless of the technologies and techniques employed.

Meeting consumers’ privacy expectations is a top priority for the interactive advertising industry and our obligations cannot be sidestepped by technological means. The industry will continue to condemn practices that diminish transparency or frustrate consumer choice.

We welcome discussion on this matter in the comments below.

Mike Zaneis is Vice President, Public Policy for the IAB.