Joe Laszlo: March 2011 Archives

It’s been pretty clear for some time now that the Web analytics world and the online audience reach measurement/media planning worlds were on a collision course. In the early days of online media, the two fields were distinct, and so the fact that some key terms, like “unique visitor,” meant different things in the different spheres was not an issue. However, as the line between them continues to blur, we run the risk of compounding the measurement confusion already in the marketplace, and giving buyers yet another excuse to throw up their hands and keep their wallets closed due to conflicting data.

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I’m therefore encouraged by comScore’s announcement that their new Digital Analytix product (a rebranding of the Nedstat analytics product), changes the name of a key metric from “unique visitor” to “unique browser,” aligning with the audience research terminology as formalized in the IAB Audience Reach Measurement Guidelines. ComScore didn’t make this move lightly or frivolously, and they’ve got a good blog post explaining the thinking that went into the decision. Using unique browsers for the analytics metric and unique visitors for the audience metric eliminates a potential point of confusion within comScore’s product family, and becomes an even bigger win if it restarts a conversation within the web analytics community about terminology with an eye toward consistency with the IAB guidelines definitions.

If these two vital parts of the online research world can establish a common lexicon, I’m hopeful that will facilitate new and better ways to leverage the insights that both site analytics and audience measurement deliver. It will also remove the unneeded distractions created by metrics that to an outsider seem the same but that don’t, and won’t ever, align.

Joe Laszlo is Deputy Director of the Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence, at the IAB.

A ton of great news and ideas came out of the IAB Annual Leadership Meeting, to the extent that both the IAB staff and the industry as a whole will be absorbing and following up on things for weeks to come. Among many other things, I was really pleased that Blake Irving, Yahoo!’s Chief Product Officer, mentioned one of the major priorities of the IAB Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence for the year in his keynote—helping smooth the process of doing rich media ad serving on mobile and tablet devices.

Mobile rich media ads are exploding in popularity with the rise of ever more powerful connected devices. Both in apps and in browsers, these expandable, contractible, interactable, richer ad experiences have taken off even more quickly in mobile than they did on the Web. However, if the rich media ads themselves are well liked, the same can’t necessarily be said for the serving of those ads. Ad servers and publishers currently have a host of different rich media Application Programming Interfaces (or APIs—the technical “language” for how one piece of software communicates with another, in this case how an ad communicates its behaviors to an application or site). This cacophony requires a great deal of specialized work to make a rich media campaign work across multiple publishers, apps, or devices. Last year, a coalition including Crisp Media, Weather.com, TringApps, JumpTap, and Pointroll took on the challenge of trying to simplify rich media ad serving through an initiative called Open Rich Media for Mobile Ads—or ORMMA.

ORMMA’s made great progress developing a reference SDK and tools for verifying that ads work under their framework. However, they also realize that to be a truly industry-wide standard would require a broader effort than ORMMA alone could mobilize. That’s why the IAB has gotten involved. With the support of both the ORMMA pioneers and other key players in the industry, including Yahoo!, we’re going to be driving the effort to create a harmonized set of APIs for mobile and tablet rich media. I don’t envision this being an easy project to take on, but it’s one that everyone in the industry agrees is vital, and with the input and assistance the IAB’s Mobile Committee members, I’m confident we can help streamline the creation and delivery of rich media ads early in the evolution of connected devices, thus paving the way for long term growth.

Joe Laszlo is Deputy Director of the Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence, at the IAB.