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.