Of Myths And Missives

Lately 3MS has been widely referenced in blog posts and presentations on digital measurement.   It has spilled over into broader contexts like cross-platform measurement, and shows up at venues focused on offline media.  This is wonderful, and speaks to the ecosystem’s avid desire to make measurement make sense, and to do so with care as well as speed.   Points of view are the interest we earn on our investment to facilitate the process, and interest earned on the time commitment made by executives from across the ecosystem.

Points of view and perspectives sometimes need grounding in the facts.  Following is a compendium of oft-heard or read misconceptions, along with some frequently asked questions (just for good measure).

Why is the 3MS initiative being undertaken?  Can’t the marketplace resolve measurement issues without 3MS?

The obvious answer is that if the marketplace could have, it would have.  The 3MS team believes that some of the recent marketplace developments in the measurement arena were in fact catalyzed by 3MS.  Cynics would say that there are some who have hitched a ride on 3MS -- and we would say, as long as measurement improves quickly and produces brand-hospitable information, we are happy.  

A big part of the background of 3MS is that we, the citizens of the ecosystem, need more brand-hospitable and cross-platform-comparable metrics.  We want the marketplace of ideas and science to listen more closely to the needs of businesses and the art of media and brand building.

The requirement that display ads must be 50% in view for a minimum of one second is a done deal. 

In fact, this is not a done deal.  This is the proposed and currently being tested requirement for something that is much bigger.  That bigger something is that for brand ads to have impact, it’s important that they can be seen.  Digital media never tried to deliberately avoid that commonsense notion.  Today’s standard for an ad impression in display media was written before the technology to render and count that an ad is in view was available.

One of the guiding principles of measurement promulgated by the 3Ms team is that we must move from served to viewed ad impressions.  The 50%/one second requirement is what we are testing.  Until we have enough good data to ascertain how well that requirement works, we will not be done.

What do you mean by good data?

As part of the 3MS process, we have asked that the MRC, the Media Rating Council, advise the ecosystem on what constitutes robust test procedures and good data.  There are 17 requirements and proofs that serving technologies must fulfill in order to participate in the pilot program testing viewable impression requirements.

Is the universe estimate for the proposed GRPs total TV households?

One school of thought is that for digital GRPs to line up with TV -- still the dominant brand advertising medium --the base must be the same.   Another school of thought is that cord-cutting is happening and may accelerate, so why use TV homes?    A third perspective is that in a changed and changing world, the universe for all media should be total population.  The third option will ensure consistency across platforms. 

The 3MS team and industry leaders who are working on requirements for GRPs are still considering the options and have yet to reach a final determination.  And, yes, before you ask, that determination is due very soon -- in fact, by end of May.

Isn’t 3MS a sellers’ initiative?

We have heard this statement in some rather august settings.  We emphatically reiterate that this is an ecosystem-wide initiative, supported by marketers, ad agencies and publishers.  The 3MS team has worked to ensure cross-discipline and cross-functional involvement by industry luminaries.  The team has consistently reached out to research vendors and others who serve the industry.  Consensus building is a core tenet of what we are doing.  One of the key financial benefits that will be realized short-term is substantial savings to agencies, derived from a consistent, transparent currency and streamlined workflow.

How will the work of 3MS continue after the team has been dissolved?

We are actively working with the MRC to create infrastructure and funding to support the fulfillment of MRC’s congressional mandate, which is to ensure both that measurement is transparent and consistent, and to set standards for measurement.  We appeal to all those who have not been members or have not been active participants in MRC to join us in supporting a bigger, stronger MRC of the future.  That means, join up, pay the dues -- and, most importantly, donate some of a very precious commodity, your time.

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1 comment about "Of Myths And Missives".
  1. John Grono from GAP Research , March 21, 2012 at 5:22 p.m.
    The universe estimate issue is a very interesting and tricky one. While there appears to be a logic on the surface that the total population should be each medium's UE, that is (in my opinion) fallacious. The UE is the basis that the sample is projected to. If you have a sample of 'users' (for example you can't have non-TV homes in the TV panel, and you can't have non-internet homes/people in the online panel) then why are you projecting them to a figure that inlcudes the non-user population? Surely this would wrongly inflate the audience estimates. Where the population studied (TV homes, online users) is a subset of the entire population then you have to have the UE based on that subset. This raises other issues. Should readership be projected to the entire population - or just those who can read (i.e. vision impaired, illiterate, non-reading age etc. excluded). Should the out-of-home be restricted to the population of people who leave their home (e.g. exclude the infirm who are in 24/7 care)? Where those POTENTIAL exclusions are minor (say less than 1% and evenly distributed) I think it is safe to use the entire population -otherwise use the population estimate of the subset of the population being reported on. Just some thought starters ....