Cross-platform ad campaigns are coming, and so is the desire for real cross-platform measurement. Unfortunately, no one yet knows what that measurement will look like and which metrics will rule it.
More and more marketers today talk about the need to buy and measure advertising campaigns across multiple media and devices in a coordinated way, especially all electronic media, including Web-delivered ads on computers, tablets and mobile devices or spots on television and radio. It’s a compelling and sensible vision, but making it work in practice will require that all market participants make some tough choices about which specific metrics will drive cross-platform advertising.
At this point, I don’t know which metrics will win out. However, I recently had a conversation on this topic with my colleague Jack Smith, our chief product officer here at Simulmedia and founder of the Media Innovation Group, and former head of product strategy at 24/7 Real Media. Not surprisingly, Jack has some very strong opinions on this topic. Specifically, he believes that audience will become the atomic unit and primary driver of all cross-media measurements, and that the federated (anonymous) identity of a consumer of content will be fundamental to cross-media measurement and monetization. Here are his reasons:
People are not commodities. There are a finite number of people in the universe. If the audience universe is finite, the value of any "individual audience" can be determined if you can reduplicate this audience across media.
Impressions are commodities. Measuring impressions is easy. They are different silo by silo (e.g. TV, Web, tablet and mobile), and that impression measurement can and must exist somewhat differently in each and every silo.
Reach is the baseline of media value. Unique (or unduplicated) audience reach is the baseline for media value (e.g., who and how many did you reach?).
Essential for cross-media de-duplication. De-duplicating audience across media/devices isn't possible until and unless audience is the central unit of measurement and made consistent across all media.
All other measurements follow. Once the cross-media unique reach problem is solved, additional media-specific measures can be layered on top of reach. For example, social gestures, likes or Twitter mentions are important metrics for social campaigns. Show ratings are critical in TV. Time spent is important in magazines.
What do you think? Will “audience” be the atomic unit of cross-media measurement?