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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.