We have reached a new level of self harm in digital measurement

ImageAh the Ads are on – cup of tea anyone?

Digital media will eat itself then be sick all down us. Viewability is the latest craze to hit those who must have historically worked offline with frustrated metrics and now want to take it out on digital. When I moved to digital in 2000 we beat our chest with just how much we could measure. We could measure every time an Ad was shown! Every time someone clicked on it! Every time someone bought something! On and on it went, glory times. Until we realised that just because we could measure it, it was not necessarily a good thing.

Digital tracking issues started with no reach and frequency metrics! Everyone has been scrabbling to replicate the TV world. I am often asked how we measure brand metrics – well we can look at certain key numbers like engagement etc but ultimately if you want to track brand engagement then measure it with a survey, just like you do on every TV campaign. As we have evolved so have our measurement approaches but we are entering a new era of self harm. Viewability.

I am not even going to get into the fact that the tech is ill tested and nascent and needs some really thorough analysis. Or that the measurement can be carried out by any number of different companies each with a different way of tracking, so no consistency whatsoever. No lets look at what we are doing to the industry vs the offline world.

Could someone explain to me how marketeers (and / or agencies) are starting to nail digital on something like viewability and yet TV and Press are sat laughing at our complete stupidity. The TV market has it sorted. They came up with a plan 40 years ago, they got everyone to buy into it. Ratings, indexes, context, reach, frequency and a brand survey. Nuff said everyone liked it, pretty simple – lets not dig too much further or upset the nice little market place we have going. Otherwise how can you explain that in digital there are people clamouring to only pay for viewable impressions when a multi billion pound TV marketplace trades off people leaving the room, making tea, talking, texting on Twitter when the Ads come on. Press? Lets not go there.

If we are not careful in this digital business of ours we are going to measure ourselves into the ground. In TV the metrics are broad and deliver against some key criteria that they plan against, the industry has made it simple for advertisers to spend money and not question the fact that a 20,000 person panel in the US powers $65b TV market . Viewability is a classic example where we are setting a bar so high vs the other the channels because we can. For those who are challenging the industry from an advertiser perspective – should then turn the spot light on their other media expenditures. I would ask that we take some time to establish some very clear guidelines and transitions and not go in like a bull in a china shop just so we can show off at the next pitch. Lets do things right, for the good of the industry, not just the next sell.

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3 thoughts on “We have reached a new level of self harm in digital measurement”

  1. Not sure I agree. Digital is a unique channel and should absolutely be treated differently, as users do not interact with other media channels in the same manner. What’s wrong with evolving the way we measure campaign effectiveness and increasing accountability for our digital media buys through viewable impressions (even if it’s true that we’re doing it “because we can”)? Why pay for impressions that no one will ever see? There is absolutely no value there. Yes, this is happening in offline media, but we don’t know the extent to which it’s happening; in digital, we do; and viewable impression measurement is an appropriate response.

    1. As I said it is not that I disagree with the principle, but we have to do it right. TV has succeeded as there is basically one currency. I can think of at least three companies who are measuring view ability with a range of between 35 – 70 in view for same activity. You can’t retrospectively say I am not paying for something if a number of companies call it differently. We need organisation and standards and at the moment we have a load of competing marketing decks. I hope we sort it as of course no one should pay for unseen ads. Offline as well. Thanks for the comment by the way.

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