All Roads Lead To 3MS

Two days ago, I had the pleasure of briefing the industry that interactive advertising revenue in 2011 once again broke records:

  • $31.7 billion in ad revenue for the year
  • 22% increase in 2011 over 2010
  • Fourth quarter 2011 saw the best quarterly revenue ever, at $9 billion
  • Mobile revenue is at $1.6 billion, up nearly $1 billion in a year.

In the Q&A session that followed the revenue briefing, there was a question that instantly brought Making Measurement Make Sense (3MS) to the forefront again.  We all know that any conversation about ad revenue is inextricably tied to measurement and metrics.  In the advertising business, metrics are as much a part of what we do as creative executions.  Measurement and metrics provide the currency without which there can be no transactions. 

Fortunately, 3MS is steadily moving forward. The 4A’s, ANA, and the IAB, along with senior executives from the associations’ respective memberships, have already brought change to measurement through 3MS.  There is now a path forward and a framework that will ensure rational use of transactional metrics for brands in a cross-media platform world.  Moreover, there is a place that has been and will be even more of a center of the measurement universe than ever before -- the Media Rating Council (MRC).

Going from the loftier descriptions to the nuts and bolts of 3MS, here are the key advancements already in place:

  • Pilots are underway to test whether or not the proposed standard of viewability -- that is, a display ad that is 50% in view for at least one second -- is the correct way to assess viewability.  We are learning:

                -- How well ad servers can ascertain what is viewable and what is not viewable

                -- What proportion of total ads served cannot be determined as viewable or not

                -- How the marketplace could handle the issue of ads that simply cannot be determined for the purposes of transactions

                 -- How much inventory can be affected by the proposed standard

                 -- How near or far we might be from the time that a consistent viewability standard will be the standard for transactions

  • Gross Ratings Points (GRPs) are being accepted by the digital community as a counting function that can bring digital campaigns into the world of cross-media brand campaigns.  With the viewable impression as the basis, the new GRP could be a key to putting apples and apples together in a media plan that includes display, digital video and other media.
  • GRPs are being discussed more broadly because of the implications on measurement of digital devices and content consumption across screens both in and out of home.  Should the entire ecosystem begin reconsidering the universe estimate for all GRPs?  Just a year or so ago, this kind of conversation would have seemed like heresy to many in the media business.
  • GRP discussions are ongoing at conferences and within 3MS.  Key stakeholders like Nielsen and comScore are developing and marketing GRP tools for online campaigns.  These stakeholders and others like Google are readying tools.
  • Those involved in measurement generally, and 3MS specifically, know that any party bringing tools to the marketplace will have those tools audited by the MRC. The MRC is already the place where the media industry goes to self-regulate measurement, to create standards, and to ensure that transparent, quality measurement suitable to the conduct of business is available.

All roads lead to 3MS.  Very soon, all roads will lead to a bigger MRC, an MRC that will be taking on the needs of an ever increasingly complex ecosystem and managing change in measurement -- an MRC that will be the one place where industry leaders can gather to prioritize measurement standardization. If you’re not a member yet, join up now!

1 comment about "All Roads Lead To 3MS".
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  1. Andrew Metcalf from Cloud Nine Media, May 16, 2012 at 3:57 p.m.

    Do you think that cost per engagement could complement viewability without the ad-server compatibility issues? We've been successful with our own engagement model @cloudninemedia and it feels like another way to ensure advertisers get the value they pay for.

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