Disney Exec: Online Revenue Could Be Double
That was one of the conclusions of Steven Wadsworth, president of Walt Disney Internet Group, who gave the keynote address at the Interactive Advertising Bureau's inaugural Measurement Leadership Forum on Thursday.
The conference brought together leaders from the online measurement and marketing worlds to discuss why the "most measurable" medium fails to garner a bigger piece of the ad spending pie, and which methods most accurately mirror online consumer activity. Panelists included executives from Nielsen Online, comScore, Hitwise and Microsoft.
In his opening remarks, Web veteran Wadsworth began by spotlighting all the positive trends associated with the Internet: more than 25% annual ad revenue growth, an expanding audience, increasing time spent per online session, a greater variety of interactive and social content and inroads made against traditional media. "There is nothing but good news," Wadsworth said.
With the exception of a fatal flaw: The actual proportion of ad dollars the Internet gets is still tiny compared to traditional media --especially television, which takes about 40%. "What is causing the disconnect between the way consumers are voting...and the actual choices marketers are making in how they're spending their precious commodity: money?" Wadsworth asked.
Wadsworth's answer was that marketers and agencies still haven't made the transition to the Internet from a media-buying universe that revolves around TV. "Before the paradigm changes there's going to be a lot of friction," he said.
A key to overcoming that friction is to provide marketers with a simple set of metrics that can translate easily from ratings they're familiar with in traditional media. "We have this problem of plenty," said Wadsworth, echoing a theme emerging during the conference. "We have too many ways to look at (data) and it's confusing. It's not simple and it's not clear. "
Wadsworth described how he struggles within Disney to sort out conflicting sources of Web audience data. Much of the controversy surrounding Web metrics stems from discrepancies between publishers' server logs and panel-based audience measurement provided by companies such as comScore and Nielsen.
"I usually pick the data that works for me and point to the rest and say, 'it's flawed,'" he said. The resulting confusion from copious and conflicting data ultimately undermines marketers' confidence. "We unfortunately create a perception that were not as mature (an industry) as we are," Wadsworth said.
While not proposing solutions to the problems he raised, the Disney executive said it was the responsibility of those gathered to come up with more uniform Web measurement. "This is the group that's going to get us there," he said.