That excuse was valid. Marketers knew exactly what they were getting from one screen (TV), but had little clue what other screens were delivering in terms of reach or impact.
Digital “gurus” ridiculed those hesitant marketers as dinosaurs, saying they were stupid not to see the great opportunity of digital. And consumers learned that sharing cat videos and trolling were fun pastimes and signed up for digital platforms in large numbers. Brave marketers like Burger King (subservient chicken) and Evian (dancing baby) joined in and were celebrated as visionary advertisers miles ahead of the pack.
As digital grew to become an all-pervasive platform, marketers jumped in with both feet — not, funnily enough, because they now had the multiscreen rating they had asked for only seven or so years ago. No, the reasoning was driven by the lure of “cheap” reach versus “expensive” reach in other media. Plus, there was (and to a degree still is) a significant degree of digital advertising FOMO.
Fast-forward another five years, and marketers have now come to realize that cheap digital reach comes with significant downsides, like huge amounts of waste (between 40% and 60% of each dollar, depending on which data you believe) while annoying consumers to the point that they install ad blockers to escape the digital advertising onslaught (over 20% globally now).
Marketers are now going through the process of the great digital clean-up, forcing the all-powerful digital platforms and their quick-buck agency middlemen to rethink their business.
According to a media auditing firm presentation I saw the other day, the days of calling fraudulent digital advertising “collateral damage” are over.
So you’d think that this would be the time to resurrect the multiscreen rating debate, right? Not so fast!
Despite having come full circle — from questioning the wisdom of digital investments to plowing enormous amounts of money blindly, to now again questioning the wisdom of those ever-growing investments — there’s still no robust debate about the outcomes of digital advertising.
The media world has always been extremely good at optimizing the outputs of campaigns. They were optimized against cost per 1000, cost per GRP, reach, frequency, frequency distribution and so on. Multimedia modeling and marketing mix modeling both benefited from being fed large quantities of mostly TV data.
Digital media also claimed legitimacy on the same types of output measurements like cost per click, cost of total reach, click through rates, or even — gasp — cost per like or share.
Of course, none of these metrics matter when there are no results. And we must ask ourselves, would a TVR (total video rating) provide the transparency and clarity marketers are seeking? The answer is “probably not.” Attribution — that is, the science of allocating cause and effect to an activity relative to the cost of that activity — seems far more promising.
Which means that the TVR has gone from excuse to obsolete in a mere 15 years, and it did so without ever existing!