Demo R& Fs: Back to the Future?

by , Sep 20, 2011, 1:15 PM
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As part of their joint initiative,  "Making Measurement Make Sense," The ANA, the IAB and the 4As, have issued five Guiding Principles of Measurement -- and just announced how those are going to be implemented.

The second principle calls for a migration to currency based on audience impressions, not gross ad impressions. It also incorporates a call for the ability to accurately determine demographic reach and frequency of online advertising schedules comprised of viewable impressions.  Moving to a standard of viewable impressions online (for banner ads) rather than impressions served is the first principle.

The members of the associations who have been part of "Making Measurement Make Sense," along with the management consulting firm, Bain & Company and MediaLink, the strategic advisory firm, worked on an aggressive timeline to formulate the Guiding Principles and agree on implementation plans.  While this activity proceeded, other marketplace developments for demo R&Fs did, too.  Nielsen received MRC accreditation for its Online Campaign Ratings service, an accomplishment that I, for one, applaud. comScore added AdExpose capabilities to its suite of products, a step that will enhance its Campaign Essentials.

Why all the activity around what many people believe is an anachronistic way of looking at advertising?  In a world of sophisticated data analytics and boundless opportunities to create consumer experiences with content and advertising, why bother with demo R&Fs? 

Here is one really compelling reason to do so:  Big brands do not advertise in a vacuum. They advertise across media platforms, and they market to consumers using a multiplicity of programs.  Demo R&Fs for online campaigns allow brand marketers to begin to put their online schedules together with their offline schedules so they can quantify the number of unique people in their target demographic who saw their message a given number of times. 

In and of themselves, demographic reach and frequency say nothing about the quality of the advertising and the consumer experience.  These metrics are useful as a barometer of possible consumer fatigue with an ad.  The parameters of fatigue are ever-changing in a digital world.  Overexposure to a campaign has become harder to define.  What is certain is that if we cannot measure reach and frequency accurately across media platforms -- and use that information to broadly assess campaign effectiveness -- we won't be able to know how much is too much.

It is of utmost importance that digital media platforms be valued for what they can do for brands -- along with other media, and on their own.  What makes digital media unique is interactivity, a construct clearly not measured by demo R&Fs.  We do not live in a world of either/or.  We live in a world of basic counts layered with insights that illuminate the value of the counts.

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