More on Myths and Measurement.

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OK, so last week’s post (“The Myth of Digital Measurement“) proved two things beyond any doubt:  (1) people who care about digital measurement apparently read The Drift, and (2) many of them didn’t care for the flurry of hyperbole and metaphor I loosed on the topic. So it seems fitting to revisit the subject and add a little depth and perspective.

First, long-time collaborator and measurement gladiator Rex Briggs led of his reply post with “Yes, Doug, you are nuts.”  And it only went downhill from there.  It seems the very association of measurement and mythology is something of a third rail in quant circles. (Who knew?)   Clearly digital measurement, in and of itself, is not a myth.  It’s there, we keep score based on it, and lots of smart people have put lots of time into it.  It’s the idea that a uniform approach to measurement — in and of itself — will make the difference that’s mythical.

The Drift is proudly underwritten this week by PubMatic,which empowers publishers with one holistic platform to sell advertising more intelligently.

Which brings me to my next round of calls and e-mails.  In discussions with the Interactive Advertising Bureau late last week, I got schooled on the “Making Measurement Make Sense” (3MS) initiative, on which the IAB is collaborating with the ANA and the 4As.  The whole thing is based on a set of guiding principles and — you guessed it — is aimed at creating a uniform approach to measurement.  I’ll let you follow the links here to learn more about this initiative (and also extend a standing invitation to the IAB to guest-blog on the subject here).  But I’m going to take the opportunity now to both more fully explain the nuance of my position while also underscoring some of its core principles.

First, is it a good thing that the IAB, ANA and 4As are getting together on this?  Unequivocally yes.  At a time when online video numbers keep breaking the ceiling and digital companies are lining up behind audience measurement, creating  a lingua franca that makes traditional buyers more comfortable certainly can only help.  While I’m still not on the “holy grail of a unified GRP” bandwagon, I don’t believe that’s what this initiative is about.  I also don’t think it even has to completely “succeed” in order for digital media’s position to improve.  So put me on Team IAB on this one, and let’s drive a stake through the heart of click-base attribution once and for all.

However….

Let’s remember that first and foremost The Drift is written for sellers and sales leaders.  And my advice to them in this matter is also unequivocal:  If you wait around for the rising tide of uniform measurement to raise your boat, you will be left high and dry.  It is still your job to innovate, push the boundaries of value creation and account for it all through an impressionistic mix of sources and approaches.  The 3MS initiative may help reset the baseline for how we count stuff, but the seller — and to some extent the agency and client — will continue to measure value in a much more interpretive way.

I also believe I’m hardly alone in thinking this way. It’s why all the great digital measurement players — including Marketing Evolution, Rex Briggs’ firm — are all developing a broad range of tools and talents to help tackle the larger job of value description.  And that’s a job that — like digital media itself — is permanently dynamic.

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