ANA, 4As, IAB Release Digital Measurement Principles

Three key ad industry associations -- The Association of National Advertisers, the Interactive Advertising Bureau and the 4As -- this week released their Guiding Principles of Digital Measurement, five principles that the trade groups described as "the foundation of making measurement make sense."

The principles are part of an industry-wide initiative being facilitated by consultants Bain & Company and MediaLink.

The principles are:

Principle No. 1 -- Move to a "viewable impressions" standard and count real exposures online.

Today, we count "served impressions" as recorded by ad servers. Often, ad units are not in a viewable space to the end-user or fail to fully load on the screen -- potentially resulting in substantial over-counting of impressions. Viewable exposures are increasingly the norm across other media and better address the needs of brand marketers.

Principle No. 2 -- Online advertising must migrate to a currency based on audience impressions, not gross ad impressions.



Brand marketers target specific audiences. Marketers need to understand the quality and number of exposures against their targets -- and the respective reach and frequency of such exposures. The existing digital currency makes this extremely difficult. Moreover, the practice of selling ad impressions makes cross-media comparisons extremely difficult, if not impossible.

Principle No. 3 -- Because all ad units are not created equal, we must create a transparent classification system.

Unlike traditional media, which have a limited number of inventory types (30-sec spot, full-page back cover), digital has a myriad of units. A transparent classification system will:

• Reduce complexity from a creative standpoint

• Simplify the comparison of ad units across Web sites

• Enhance the ability to track how different types of ad inventory drive different outcomes

• Facilitate planning and evaluation across media

Making Measurement Make Sense advocates a transparent classification system, adhered to by all publishers. Such a system will enable marketers to identify and spotlight the best offerings for brand building, and for other marketing objectives.

Principle No. 4 -- Determine interactivity "metrics that matter" for brand marketers, so that marketers can better evaluate online's contribution to brand building.

Currently, the industry is awash in digital interaction metrics. However, these metrics are not necessarily relevant for brand marketers. Aside from click-throughs, there are few standards for enabling reliable comparison across sites. The industry must identify and define the specific metrics most valuable to brand marketers and define and implement reliable standards for existing metrics.

Principle No. 5 -- Digital media measurement must become increasingly comparable and integrated with other media.

Measurement solutions must facilitate cross-platform planning, buying and evaluating of marketing and media. This is a substantial issue that hampers analysis and decision-making throughout the ecosystem.

2 comments about "ANA, 4As, IAB Release Digital Measurement Principles".
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  1. John Mustin from Wasabi Rabbit, June 20, 2011 at 1:11 p.m.

    Thanks for the post, Joe.

    It’s definitely a step in the right direction for the ANA, IAB and 4As to agree to a set of fundamental guidelines, but I believe in many ways we're talking to ourselves.
    We as an industry have yet to address our clients' primary interest: business results.

    Our experiences through countless campaigns seem to naturally gravitate around a central theme in our client conversations. The fact of the matter is they don’t care how the sausage is made (meaning how we employ the delicate balance between the number of impressions, types of placements, rich media formats selected or the media plan that ultimately results) – what they care about is seeing business results.

    While we’re expending effort on our internal industry-focused conversations about how we do what we do, it seems like we’re failing to advance the dialog with our clients. Even the measure of clicks, historically the most easilygrasped metric by non-savvy marketers, fails to deliver the kernel of wisdom the clients seek.

    We work with our clients to address a business need, a philosophy we refer to as Digital Performance Marketing, and show them how we’ll deliver leads, downloads, sales or any other specific action they seek. And by focusing on delivering results, we’re able to lift their heads out of the weeds by letting them focus on their business rather than the mechanics of what we, as digital marketers, do to grow their business.

    While this milestone will no doubt serve the industry well in the long run; in our opinion, any celebration at this point is clearly premature.

    It's time to address the things that our clients care about.

  2. Ben Plomion, June 21, 2011 at 10:01 a.m.

    John's comments are spot-on. I recently move from the brand to the technology side. More often than not, we (as an industry) seem to focus on metrics that are important to us but not necessarily relevant to the client.

    I recently wrote a post called 'Measuring Brand advertising performance: forget about the small 'Cs' (Click-throughs), it's all about the big 'O' (Outcome). It's available here:

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