I have long been convinced that standard online marketing metrics were not only ineffective and inefficient for marketers, but were also destroying the quality of content on the Internet. Over a year ago I wrote about "Advertising's Role In Crippling The Internet As A Medium" and again in "The Online Advertising Conundrum - More Metrics, Less Meaning." The basic gist was this: because marketers were demanding metrics (i.e. impressions, clicks) that did not necessarily equate to value for a marketer, and could be faked or gamed, traditional media metrics were creating a lose-lose-lose eco-system on the Internet for publishers, advertisers and people.
I have never met Avinash Kaushik, Google's new Analytics Evangelist. But after reading "Google's 'Analytics Evangelist' Explains Why Websites 'Suck,'" an article by Mya Frazier about a talk Kaushik gave to a group of marketers, I think he and I would get along very well. From the article by Frazier: "Mr. Kaushik employed the word 'sucks' frequently when he talked about the traditional metrics used for measuring online marketing. And as far as online marketing goes, it sucks too. He likened it to a 'faith-based initiative.'"
One issue: placing all emphasis on reach over quality. How many BILLIONS of impressions is your campaign getting? If you are a publisher or ad network, you've heard it before; if you are a marketer, you're probably guilty of it. Are you going on faith that you are actually affecting consumer opinions of your brand with those impressions? Media buyers are forced to compare CPM or CPC costs, because that is the only common metric that they have to compare across online media buys. But what does the number of impressions generated have to do with value generated for a brand? Maybe something, maybe nothing. And we are back to marketers relying on faith. No wonder only CPA campaigns and other direct marketers are putting a significant percentage of dollars against online.
What should Web sites and ad networks be delivering to brand marketers? I would argue that there is a metric that could accurately measure online campaign effectiveness. This metric would measure the affect on brand awareness, brand perception and intent to purchase the campaign had on people exposed to various campaign assets. How? Ask the people exposed to the campaign. Sounds a lot like focus group testing, I know, but imagine focus group testing with scale and real-time results. It is not impossible, given the two-way nature of social media, that we could achieve a statistically significant sampling to measure the effectiveness of a particular campaign. Of course the Web site or the ad network couldn't provide this type of survey; it would require a third party that could compare the results across various online advertising methods to provide comparative results. Also, this method would presuppose people's willingness to engage with marketers, or finding the right motivations.
Metrics that matter are closer than you think. Imagine if Web sites didn't have to compete for "trick clicks" or massive impressions, but could report how effective their media was for marketers. They could focus on being more influential over their readers, meaning creating better quality. And marketers could focus on the number of people their campaigns actually affected. Imagine a new era in Internet advertising by applying methods marketers have been using for decades to social media.