The key to valid audience-based metrics: test away.
That was the closing note in George Ivie's presentation, "Desired Future State," at the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement (CIMM) Cross-Platform Media Measurement and Data Summit last week.
The CEO and executive director of the Media Rating Council said his advice to those looking to measure audience is to adopt a standard--and, of course, go to the MRC for an audit to figure out if a product works or not.
"Science needs validation," Ivie said.That's similar to what the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) said in a a primer for publishers on improving ad viewability released last month. The document outlined strategies for working with third-party vendors or using an internal measurement system as a "source of truth" that can be used as a baseline and in testing.
How can cross-platform media measurement move forward? Change can't be done sequentially, Ivie said during his CIMM presentation. He told a cautionary tale about ad metrics. When the ad industry relied on served impressions as the standard years ago, someone came to him and proposed a wild idea: the viewable impression. The new metric would count ad impressions that were actually seen by humans--not simply those placed on a page. Many people discounted the concept at the time, Ivie said, including himself.
The industry took a turn in 2014 when the viewable impression became the standard, with the release of the MRC's desktop viewable impression guideline. And this month, the MRC issued an update on mobile viewability, with more to come after public comment.
Still, change takes time. As IAB SVP Sherrill Mane wrote in Metrics Insider last year, "We’ll need to tap into a combination of ad operations, measurement science, and research to get there--in good order and good time."
To understand the effectiveness of an ad in any medium, the goal shouldn't just be to get it done, but to do it right.