“Data-Driven Thinking" is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.
Today’s column is written by George W. Ivie, CEO and executive director at the Media Rating Council.
Cross-device audience measurement is difficult and has been slow to emerge because the clues involved are unique to each channel and measured inconsistently. It’s like people who speak different languages trying to understand each other without common reference points.
Today’s video advertising campaign, for example, could appear in linear television media, video on demand, streamed video on proprietary app platforms, as part of over-the-top functionality or in other emerging derivations. That same campaign could also appear in some form across other media types, such as print, radio or outdoor.
Unfortunately, the measurement data sets associated with these media choices exist in silos, making it difficult to compare performance using common metrics. Not surprisingly, the industry is demanding common measurement techniques that can be used across platforms by independent third-party measurers for normalized reporting of common metrics.
We at the MRC strongly believe that we need to recognize the importance of normalizing impression and audience measurements across media platforms and take action to make that a reality for the benefit of all. Today, several industry groups are coming together to develop cross-media audience measurement standards.
Our mission is to enable comparisons by buyers and sellers of ad exposure and delivery across media platforms and types, in a true apples-to-apples way, as well as consistent, syndicated content measurement.
We’re also going to facilitate higher-order metrics, such as audience estimates for demographic or behavioral targets, measures of effectiveness of ad creative across platforms or media types, common sales-lift assessments and return on advertising investments for individual platforms and cross-media campaigns.
Strength in numbers
Several years ago, the Making Measurement Make Sense (3MS) initiative was launched as a joint project of the ANA, 4As and IAB, with the MRC as developer and implementer. 3MS now has moved to the next stage of our work, establishing cross-media audience measurement standards; later phases of our project will be devoted to standardizing measures related to the value of advertising.
The Video Advertising Bureau has joined this effort. Because of video measurement’s importance to the marketplace and the urgency with which it needs to be addressed, it is the first media genre we will standardize, with others, such as audio and print, to follow.
This new cross-media audience measurement standard will build on earlier 3MS-related output to measure and standardize impressions, remove invalid traffic, establish common viewable parameters and the role of duration requirements and create a set of recommended standard practices for data collection across platforms. This new standard represents positive steps in the long journey toward complete, robust and industry-accepted cross-platform audience measurements.
We will establish minimum practices and disclosures, including guidance for ads and content separately, across all platforms and, eventually, media types. This removes the need for highly customized approaches that force brands and content owners to individually decipher and cobble together ad and/or content exposures and audiences.
We’re going to break barriers created by different custom methodologies that can’t be consistently compared or applied across platforms. Current practice can yield very different measured results depending on the methodology and data sources. It’s imperative that we ensure accuracy and that the measured performance differences between the platforms and media are real and not an artifact of the measurement process.
We’re going to address buyer and seller concerns for greater consistency, comparability and accuracy in the measurement and reporting of their media buys. This standard will be a trust builder that gives confidence to advertisers, agencies and media platforms that measurements are accurate and usable.
Finally, we want to enhance the speed of reporting and enable the combining of results. This will help us quickly get a complete picture of campaigns, reconciliations and make-goods. The marketplace will operate more efficiently, saving time and better optimizing spend.
We’re confident this cross-media audience measurement standard will inspire greater trust in measurement and media platforms. It will bring buyers and sellers together to solve problems that have evaded us for a long time.
Our standards working group is open for participation. To learn more, contact the MRC at firstname.lastname@example.org.