Commentary

If Web Metrics Still Untrusted, Mobile Standards Long Way Off

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Measurement has long been cited as one of the barriers to higher spending in mobile advertising. The fragmentation across devices and operating systems, lack of a common set of standards and lack of cookie-based tracking, among other factors, keep marketers and agencies from pushing more aggressively into the space, or at all.

As highlighted by Steve Smith in the Mobile Insider yesterday, that theme was sounded again at the OMMA Mobile conference this week, where agency executives pointed to the unsettled state of metrics and accountability as one of the main obstacles to bigger mobile budgets. The funny, or maybe scary, thing is that much the same complaints are still made about online advertising more than 15 years after the Web began to evolve into a commercial medium.

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The lack of the equivalent of the gross ratings point in digital media is still cited as a hurdle to increased online ad spending and basic questions about the efficacy and reliability of Web measurement and audience tracking still fill industry conference halls.

"On the issue of big problems, everyone seemed to agree the lack of standardization in metrics definitions and measurement processes are huge hurdles to overcome. And while everyone seemed to agree something should be done, I couldn't help but wonder who is going to lead such an initiative."

That quote doesn't come from back in 1997 but a column written last week by Peter Black in the Online Analytics Insider a couple of weeks ago in reference to a panel he sat on at Feburary's OMMA Metrics & Measurement conference. Running under the headline "Is 'Reliable Web Measurement' An Oxymoron?", it highlighted how new technical developments like Flash cookies can continually throw digital analytics into doubt.

Separately, a survey of more than 600 marketers released by Omniture this week found 80% indicated return on investment in online marketing is important to track, but only 31% can effectively measure it. Among social media, mobile, and Web video, mobile was found to be the least utilized, with only 22.7% of marketers tapping into the category. Only 14% are using all three. Omniture, of course, is using the findings to push its analytics services, so the results should be taken with a grain of salt.

But the point is that the questions and concerns surrounding mobile metrics aren't going to go away anytime soon. Advertisers, publishers, agencies and others will have to live with a degree of uncertainty about mobile measurement well into the future as the industry continues to rapidly evolve.

Perhaps that's one of the reasons why mobile apps have proven so popular with marketers. They provide self-contained, interactive platforms that make it easier to track things like downloads and interaction rates, how long someone played a game and for how long per session. And with the ability to incorporate e-commerce capability, they hold the promise of directly boosting product sales.

The rapture with apps suggests the direction in mobile will be closer to direct marketing, albeit at the high end in custom apps like Kraft's iFood Assistant or Volkswagen's Real Racing game, rather than an extension of traditional brand advertising. With that approach, marketers can set more specific, tangible benchmarks for evaluating campaign performance that don't rely as heavily on standardized metrics. And that could end up being anything from recipe downloads to movie ticket sales to driving in-store traffic.

2 comments about "If Web Metrics Still Untrusted, Mobile Standards Long Way Off ".
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  1. Inbar Chap, May 20, 2010 at 4:35 a.m.

    Indeed Mark, measurement is a barrier in mobile advertising as it is still premature and limited when aiming at results – hence, it is difficult for results oriented Advertisers to allocate budgets. Moreover, the CPA/CPL methods are uncommon and unacceptable on the mobile advertising field, which grips the above.
    But still, in the market there are already a few platforms which allow the tracking of conversions, the measurement of results and taking care of the value chain.

    In fact, Our Traffiliate optimization platform (www.traffiliate.com) provides transparency of the campaign process and allows to track conversions on mobile campaigns, providing a single management and optimization source for aggregation of multiple mobile ad platforms with effective media management and even unified reporting system.

    The visibility and control achieved over the entire mobile campaigns allows you (or us) to choose the best media source and creative for each campaign, to make the right choice for maximizing the profitability and helping marketers to achieve their ROI and spent higher volumes.

  2. Jason Spievak from RingRevenue, June 4, 2010 at 2:52 p.m.

    The rapture with apps suggests the direction in mobile will be closer to direct marketing, albeit at the high end in custom apps like Kraft's iFood Assistant or Volkswagen's Real Racing game, rather than an extension of traditional brand advertising. I agree that in order for mobile to become a larger part of the marketing budget, we need to develop better ways to show its ROI. Apps do provide a great way to engage consumers, but what about the majority of mobile phone users who don’t even use apps? We need to be able to engage and entice customers to act as a result of a mobile ad, then track and measure the results. Technology that seamlessly integrates into the consumer’s mobile world while also providing a method of measurement for marketers is the ultimate goal.

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