2012: A Measurement Odyssey
As I thought about the different ways this column could close out 2011 and ring in 2012, one topic stayed top of mind: Making Measurement Make Sense (3MS). In addition to 3MS, there are a few other central themes that will surface in 2012. Without further ado, here’s a checklist of metrics solutions and issues to follow in 2012.
1. 2012 will be the year when we see the measure of how game-changing 3MS really is, likely by the summer.
2. Measurement solutions will increasingly be the responsibility of all sectors in the industry.
3. In 2012, the industry will establish a metrics governance and change management body.
4. Mobile measurement will develop a 3MS-like process and solution.
5. Core social activity and brand performance metrics will be standardized.
6. Engagement metrics will come closer to clear definition.
7. Integration of data tech and analytics with media and marketing research will begin to occur with greater frequency and scope.
The daily planning-buying-selling workflow and currency, inventory valuations and forecasts, brand strategies, cross-platform assessment, and the management of change in measurement, will feel the impact of 3MS in 2012. 2011 is/was the year when top executives across the ecosystem came together to redefine digital display measurement in a cross-platform world and ensure that brand marketers have the tools they need to evaluate digital media.
More than media measurement has ever been, measurement in the digital age is about leadership from the business, ad ops, and research areas working together to own the definitions, the metrics, the workflow and the relationships. Collective ownership applies across the ecosystem as well as across functions and disciplines. The future of media measurement will likely follow this pattern.
In 2012, measurement governance and standards will have a cross-industry structure and process. Much work is underway by the 3MS team and others. One of the key responsibilities in this arena will be change management -- particularly critical to the development of currency metrics as media and technology innovate, and to the creation of transparent, high quality standards for all aspects of measurement that touch the evaluation of advertising media.
A process much like 3MS will have to be undertaken for mobile measurement in 2012. As a matter of fact, the IAB Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence has heard from leading members that 3MS must tackle mobile. The only question remaining is timing. Stated more explicitly, should mobile measurement standardization be handled by the new cross ecosystem measurement policy/change management entity when it starts up? Or must mobile measurement standardization begin prep work in parallel with the development of a new governance body?
As the pilot phases of the first three 3MS solutions beginning now and continuing through the mid-2012 wrap-up, standardization of social activity brand metrics will be central to the ongoing efforts to “make measurement make sense.” The executives who participated in the 3MS teams advocated the development and standardization of interactivity metrics that matter, metrics to quantify what is uniquely interactive about digital media and what works to build brands.
Much like what happened a number of years ago in other media, it has become popular in digital circles to use “engagement” to describe all manner of consumer activity that demonstrates a relationship or connection to an ad or content. Clarity is needed. In 2012, the media industry should either take the engagement to the altar with a very clear sense of what married life will be like -- or we should officially end the engagement and seek other expressions and constructs to describe everything we roll into engagement today. Some of the clarity will come out of the continuation of the work of 3MS, some through greater rigor.
Metrics and how they are used to make business decisions will benefit from the integration of media and marketing research, with the enormous growth of data technology. As digital transformation continues, there will be a need for analytics practitioners and those who do media and marketing research to understand each other’s respective “worlds,” and to integrate them to generate new, deeper and more profound insights.
Predictions aside, no matter how these issues and potential solutions play out over the course of the next year, it is clear that we have our work cut out for us.
Hold onto your hats: Here comes 2012!