One of the major issues for Web media continues to be data. In the end, data is the thing that sets us apart. Because of interactivity, we have more information than any other medium. In fact, we have so much data, we're drowning in it. Bob Ivins, now with comScore, first stated that trying to parse web data was "like taking a drink out of a firehose." This was back when he was vice president, marketing, of I/PRO in the mid '90s. It was true then, and remains true today.
Questions about the accuracy of measurement methods continue to frustrate advertisers and publishers. Just how to measure reach, composition, and engagement then, is a fundamental issue. And when it comes to evaluating online engagement, there is no consensus on what engagement really signifies. A big part of the problem is that engagement is a complex affair -- and with the proliferation of social and professional networks and collaboration -- becoming more complex all the time.
Recently, our customers have communicated a message to us loud and clear. It is a message that may seem counterintuitive here in the 21st century, in the all-digital, micro-targeting, behavioral targeting, contextual targeting age. Demographics, they tell us, are of paramount importance. No, seriously. Demographics. Like age, gender, household income. I know; it's as if I told you I was converting all my MP3s to 8-track, right?
I was dead wrong about Web analytics. I wondered why companies had not invested heavily and speedily in education, training and Web analytics tools. Measuring the success of your Web site is a fundamentally obvious opportunity to blow away the competition. Why would any company not want to set upon a course of continuous improvement? Why would any company turn down the opportunity to get a higher return on their Internet investment? Who would not want to optimize their online marketing, thereby boosting their return on investment?
There is a lot of talk about a media recession. The major agencies are projecting media growth ranging from .3% to a few percentage points. Yet there are a lot of parts of the media business that are growing just fine. Is it possible that those measuring the media are not measuring the right thing? After all, if all you look at is dying media, you are bound to come up with the result that things don't look so good.
Over the holidays, everyone (by which I mean, my wife's family) was asking me, "What exciting new developments can we expect to see in online metrics in 2008?" From my perspective, I do see something important bubbling up on the Internet, something that is going to affect online metrics because existing metrics are insufficient to measure it. I'm talking about video.
I am thrilled that Web analytics is growing up, that standards are increasing and more people understand there are ways to use data to make better decisions. The one thing that I am not so sure about is the implication that Web metrics can adequately measure for brand impact, awareness and other measures traditionally used to approximate value from upper funnel marketing activity.