The Key To Audience-Based Metrics: Testing, Testing And More Testing

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. 

3 comments about "The Key To Audience-Based Metrics: Testing, Testing And More Testing".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics, April 18, 2016 at 10:04 a.m.

    I wonder how it was proposed to measure the fact that ads were actually "seen"? Would all internet-based devices feature tiny spy-like cameras that took pictures of their users when ads became "viewable"----counting only those whose eyes were fixed on the ad for at least one second as "ad viewers"?

  2. Peter Rosenwald from Consult Partners, April 18, 2016 at 11:57 a.m.

    "Testing, testing and more testing" is and has been for some time, the mantra of direct, data-driven and accountable marketing. Only where you can measure response through the different parts of the funnel and ultimately come up with an ROMI, the return on the marketing investment, based on measurable sales, the result of those tests will inform future marketing investment.

    But round and round we go trying to find a meassurement and devine a value for how many seconds a viewer spends looking at an ad or similar. Any creative director can follow the lead of tabloid newpapers using a titilating illustration that may catch the eye for a few seconds and thereby increase the 'viewability' metric but which might be totally irrelevant to the purpose of the ad.

    Testing is only meaningful if the commercial results of the tests can be measured. Otherwise, we will have constructed a fantasy metric.    

  3. Robert Barrows from R.M. Barrows, Inc. Advertising & Public Relations, May 8, 2016 at 2:04 p.m.

    The best way to measure the effectiveness of any kind of advertising is with some advertising math called “The Barrows Popularity Factor.” It shows you how you can actually QUANTIFY the relationship between your advertising and sales and it can help your company make a lot more money. Plus, the math is extremely easy to use and all of the calculations can be done by one person, in moments, with just a simple calculator. You can read all about it in a booklet called “The Barrows Popularity Factor.”

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