Here in the digital space, we tend to be of two minds with respect to traditional media institutions (like the MRC, the Gross Rating Point, etc.) On the one hand, of course, we digerati want a seat at the grown-up table; in fact, there can be no question anymore that online is a medium that is all grown up. On the other hand, we tend to look askance at anything from the analog, 20th century, "media 1.0" world; how can that possibly apply to our space? We're far too complex to be bound by convention! We have widgets and social …
Tuesday's article about third-party auditors and standards triggered some healthy discussion in the industry this week about the responsibilities of standard-setting bodies and transparency. Much of the discussion was around the validity of metrics and third party accreditation when there is no agreed upon standard.
I got a call from a company that I am advising that was looking for advice on certification. They were the first to put onto my radar that the ABC (Audit Bureau of Circulations) had announced its Digital Technology Accreditation program, with the first accreditation going to Clearspring, the "world's leading widget syndication and tracking service." A similar accreditation has recently been granted by IMServices for Massive. This interested and bothered me at the same time.
It's gratifying to see the increasing popularity of marketing measurement. You can barely get through an article on marketing these days without seeing "ROI" or "metrics" in the copy. Google search on "Marketing ROI" and you'll get 16.5 million hits. Unfortunately, in a world where anyone can publish anything electronically and everything looks good at first glance, marketing measurement solutions are being tossed about rather casually. "ROI" has become shorthand to describe any ambiguous effort to associate spend with economic value. "Metrics" are anything you can build a bar or pie chart on. And don't even get me started on …
So this guy I know told me that he heard from a very influential friend of his that all the buzz on the M15 bus last week was about Word of Mouth (WOM) marketing. Some people call it conversational marketing; others call it "listening to the consumer." (And from there it's just a hop, skip and jump to social media, CGM, and "Web 2.0.") So today I came to an Advertising Research Foundation workshop on WOM marketing, because I'm easily influenced. So why all the buzz about buzz?
My job is to help companies understand and strategize around the use of Web metrics to optimize their marketing. After explaining the massive multitude of measurements one *could* tabulate, it's time to decide what the organization, department, group or project *should* measure. With so many measurement options, the question is seldom about standards or technologies, but always about goals. What are you trying to accomplish?
One school of thought suggests that it is short-form video that will continue to rule online video. I'm not convinced; the Internet is not just a medium (per se); it is also a distribution platform. In other words, it can be compared to TV, but it can also be compared to broadcast or cable or satellite (the technology that distributes TV.) I tend to believe that we'll continue to see Internet streaming eat into the distribution share of other video distribution technologies (broadcast, cable) as a means for consumers accessing long-form professional content.
Reach and frequency and the core concepts of traditional media planning and advertising: These data, of course, available in free or for-pay tools, are certainly helpful for planning campaigns. But reach measures can be dirty (cookies, unduplicated unique users, estimates from panels, coverage error). Frequency measures can be just as dirty (problems recording time in single page visits or visits on the last page, do page views really matter with AJAX and rich media, cookies again, and so on). We all are aware of the challenges.
The Google Ad Planner announcement last week, timed to the annual ARF conference, got a tremendous amount of interest in the press. In fact, as an "industry quotable," I do not remember a story this year that has gotten as many calls. So the question is, what's all of the hullabaloo about?