IAB: Mobile Needs Metrics Now
The pace of publisher and advertiser investment is outrunning the platform's capacity to offer accountable metrics, claims a "State of Mobile Measurement" study by the IAB's Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence. "Mobile measurement is challenged by serious methodological and technological limitations," the report says.
Despite its inarguable promise to reach and serve consumers in new ways and offer marketers unique opportunities, "the industry faces significant barriers to stable measurement standards."
The report is not descriptive as much as diagnostic, surveying the field of available mobile metrics and the challenges of creating standards. Determining the size of mobile audiences and establishing firm metrics for evaluating ad performance are critical to rationalizing increased investment in the platform, the IAB contends.
But mobile media offers complexity and challenges that are considerably greater than the PC-based Web that preceded it.
Unlike the relatively stable platforms of the PC, mobile represents variable technologies that render content differently. In fact, mobile represents at least three different channels -- apps, mobile Web and SMS -- that do not appear to have compatible measurement methodologies.
Plus, the mobile landscape is highly fragmented across channels and devices, browser types and operating systems. Its value chain consists of carriers, publishers, hardware makers, OS providers, ad networks and content retailers like app marketplaces. And ultimately, if mobile is going to prove to be a medium that amplifies print, TV, out-of-home, radio and online campaigns, it needs metrics that compare with these other media.
In addition to their immaturity as a medium, mobile channels suffer technological hurdles -- including unreliable cookie coverage, an inability to identify unique users consistently by IP address, and discrepancies between server logs and ad servers that can go as high as 50%.
The IAB report says that mobile lags behind Web, email and even social media is crafting reliable measurements of audience and ad effectiveness and that its basic infrastructure hampers attempts at a quick remedy.
In this report on the obstacles to more accurate mobile measurement, released today at its MIXX conference, the IAB says it hopes to illuminate the challenges in order to encourage a more aggressive push toward solutions.
The full "State of Mobile Measurement" is available for download from the IAB at http://www.iab.net/SoMM.