Jun 21, 2011

Revamping Digital Media Expectations for Measurement

According to an article by Mediapost, the Association of National Advertisers, the Interactive Advertising Bureau, and the 4As — three of the big dogs in the Digital Advertising Alliance — are reshaping expectations for measuring digital media, specifically display advertising.

Typically, we find that clients do understand that a key benefit to digital media is its ability to be tracked and measured. Erroneous, however, is the belief that simply measuring impressions or clicks is the end all, be all of understanding a campaign’s success (or failure).

These new principles are as follows:

Principle No. 1: Move to a "viewable impressions" standard and count real exposures online.

As it stands, most digital advertisers are familiar with buying digital media based on impressions, or number of times an advertisement will be served. However, it is true that sometimes web pages don’t fully load the ad or don’t appear in a format the end-user can view, thus failing to actually deliver on the promise of an impression. For this reason, “viewable impressions” are now the purported standard.


Principle No. 2: Online advertising must migrate to a currency based on audience impressions, not gross ad impressions.

Media buyers target specific audiences. “Reach,” or the total number/percent of your target audience touched by your media plan, is very important. This principle seems to indicate that advertisers should only be allowed to buy based on reach of their target audience, making targeting technology that much more crucial.


Principle No. 3: Because all ad units are not created equal, we must create a transparent classification system.

There are several formats and sizes of digital creative, which lend to a large permutation of available ad buys.

As stated in the article:

A transparent classification system will:

• Reduce complexity from a creative standpoint

• Simplify the comparison of ad units across Web sites

• Enhance the ability to track how different types of ad inventory drive different outcomes

• Facilitate planning and evaluation across media


Principle No. 4: Determine interactivity "metrics that matter" for brand marketers, so that marketers can better evaluate online's contribution to brand building.

Basically, akin to Principle 1, there are a lot of misleading metrics that give a false sense of campaign success. This principle speaks to the need for a standard set of measurable metrics that most accurately allow publishers to be compared in media evaluations.


Principle No. 5: Digital media measurement must become increasingly comparable and integrated with other media.

Cross-platform media planning and buying has not yet found stability where measurement is concerned. Yes, we can track more than traditional media could ever dream to track. Yes, we can see conversion funnels, drop-off points, and determine which buyers came from which media vendors, but there are still holes and gaps in analysis and evaluation. And how can we bridge the two — digital and traditional — to show accurate lift in overall sales?


Apparently, it is the mission of the Digital Advertising Alliance to figure it out. As marketing technologies evolve and expand, this will mean that analysis and reporting may get more convoluted before we actually strip reports down to what really needs to be acknowledged. The fact that we can even begin to have this conversation means digital media is in a good spot. We can now begin looking directly into the light!


[Contributed by Emily Carroll]