At a time when digital media appears to be accelerating share gains vs. traditional media, some big questions are looming regarding its underlying veracity, especially the accountability and measurement of its audience delivery.
This may not matter for some big marketers who appear to be increasingly focused on ecommerce results (i.e., sales) regardless of what the efficiency of its media buys are in terms of audience delivery, but an update from the Media Rating Council indicates many digital media platforms are reverting to a non-accredited industry standard.
According to the update, Nielsen has requested that the MRC put accreditation of its Digital Ad Ratings service on “hiatus” for a six-month period, but there was no disclosure as to why. Meanwhile, two major sources of digital audience measurement -- Triton Digital and C3 Metrics -- have had accreditation revoked by the MRC.
Meanwhile, one of digital advertising’s biggest players, Facebook, has been undergoing an audit of its methods for ensuring “brand safety” on its platform.
The moves send mixed signals to Madison Avenue about the accountability of digital media, even as demand appears to be surging, making me wonder if the kind of audience measurement necessary for brand-related targeting and advertising might not be taking a back seat to performance measures such as sales, conversions, etc.
It's extraordinarily simple for planners, buyers, sellers as well as program directors and brand managers: No audience viewing (or hearing) - no outcomes! In other words, audience measurement at the exposure or "contact" level is fundamental to understanding media's role within all the elements of an ad campaign. The most powerful elements going-in being brand equity and the creative.
If media is part of the campaign marketing mix, without measurement of target audience at the contact level advertisers will waste significant portions of their budgets as they will be investing in "impressions" (either gross or worse so called viewable impressions) that were never viewed or heard. In other words could not possibly drive any outcome.
Why do digital media not want such accountability? MRC provides some real clues albeit the industry is still waiting for them to "require" media measurement at the audience contact level as a minimum standard. This should be demanded by advertisers and their media agencies for consideration of any media vehicle in a plan. Proof of an ad or content being rendered (viewable impressions) while important cannot generate an outcome unless that content is viewed by an Audience.
If you are not familiar with it, a review of the ARF Media Model will confirm these statements and the real hierarchy of events to reach an outcome (brand sales)
Tony, I suspect that those digital people who have done their homework about "ad viewability" and eyes-on-ad measures realize that they would have to tell advertisers that the vast majority of their "impressions" ---even when the message gets on the users' screens---are not worth annything. In fairness, this has always been true for TV as well. The TV networks always avoided commercial recall studies---even when these might show one network---or program---to advantage against an opponent because doing so would reveal that most "viewers"---even "commercial minuute viewers"---do not watch the average commercial.