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As wonderful as the internet is for marketers, the digital media landscape is still very challenging.

From a lack of standards to metrics that don't really seem to provide much in the way of insight, marketers often have to balance the power of the internet with the flaws present in marketing.

But the IAB doesn't think it has to be that way. It recently collaborated with Bain & Company and MediaLink LLC to develop Making Measurement Make Sense, "an ecosystem-wide initiative" that seeks to improve digital media measurement.

At the center of Making Measurement Make Sense are five guiding principles. They are:

Move to a “viewable impressions” standard and count real exposures online

For marketers, the fact that an ad was served doesn't mean a whole lot, but that's precisely how ad servers track impressions today. That's why the IAB wants viewable impressions, which are "are increasingly the norm across other media and better address the needs of brand marketers."

Online advertising must migrate to a currency based on audience impressions, not gross ad impressions 

Since marketers typically target audiences, the IAB believes they should be able to track "the quality and number of exposures against" their target audiences.

Because all ad units are not created equal, we must create a transparent classification system 

Move over '300x250': a new classification system for digital ad units which is adhered to by all publishers would, in the IAB's opinion, simplify life for marketers so that they can make media planning, buying and tracking more efficient.

Determine interactivity “metrics that matter” for brand marketers, so that marketers can better evaluate online’s contribution to brand building 

There are numerous ways to measure 'interactivity.' Some are esoteric, while others, such as the click-through, often don't have immense value. As such, the IAB thinks interactivity metrics should be reassessed so that marketers have meaningful ways to measure interactivity.  

Digital media measurement must become increasingly comparable and integrated with other media

Cross-channel is no longer an option, it's an imperative. But if digital is going to thrive, marketers need to have the appropriate tools to make educated cross-channel marketing decisions.

In theory, much of this makes sense, and the concepts aren't new. Getting an entire industry to go along with any set of principles is, however, understandably difficult. One of the big challenges with digital media is that there is so much flexibility.

Yes, life would probably be easier for marketers if things were more standardized, but part of the beauty of the internet is that there are few limits. That offers the opportunity for marketers and publishers to experiment and innovate -- things that are often very difficult to do in other channels where standardization trumps creativity.

At the end of the day, we are already seeing the development of more transparent and standardized measurement solutions for digital media, and even though we aren't there yet, many of the players are trying to move the industry in the same direction. But will the IAB's specific vision of an industry bound by total consensus ever come to pass? Probably not, and that may not be such a bad thing.

Patricio Robles

Published 21 June, 2011 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2378 more posts from this author

Comments (2)

Peter McCormack

Peter McCormack, Founder at McCormack Morrison

Really we need to move away from post impression tracking, especially after 24 hours, really how many ads do people remember from the previous day of the hundreds they are exposed to.

We now have a ludicrous situation where some display campaigns are outperforming PPC due to post impression tracking.

Time to stop conning our clients and presenting real performance and not what suits us.

about 5 years ago

Eric Merceron

Eric Merceron, Founder at Adfrog Consultancy

I could not agree more with the IAB. Branding campaigns should not be measured with performance based metrics. "viewable impressions" is definitely a key metric to adopt...together with the amount of time it has been really viewed e.g. the impression duration

Even better, "efficient impressions" can now be tracked daily e.g. the number of impressions that will have a recall impact post campaign.

Developping metrics that speaks to brand marketeers (especially those with offline backgrounds) is definitely the way forward to promote ad display branding campaigns as a key channel.

almost 5 years ago

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