Leading Marketers, Agencies and Publishers Agree on Ground-Breaking Guiding Principles of Digital Measurement

NEW YORK, NY — The ANA (Association of National Advertisers), the IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau), and the 4A’s (American Association of Advertising Agencies) announced the release of Guiding Principles of Digital Measurement.  These five principles are the foundation of Making Measurement Make Sense, an ecosystem-wide initiative independently facilitated by the management consulting firm Bain & Company and the strategic advisory firm MediaLink LLC.

“This collaboration focuses on the needs of brand marketers and highlights the importance of cross-platform comparison,” said Bob Liodice, president and CEO, ANA.  “For the first time in the history of Internet advertising, business leaders and functional experts from leading marketers, publishers and agencies have come together to jointly develop a plan for improving digital media measurement.”

To identify priorities, develop measurement solutions and build industry consensus, Making Measurement Make Sense has assembled a group of 40 thought-leaders and decision-makers to actively contribute to the initiative.  In addition to the three founding associations, the NAA (Newspaper Association of America) and OPA (Online Publishers Association) are also participating in the initiative.

Making Measurement Make Sense has three primary objectives:

–    Define transparent, standardized and consistent metrics and measurement systems to simplify the planning, buying and selling of digital media in a cross-platform world

–    Drive industry consensus around the solutions

–    Establish a measurement governance model to support ongoing standards development, ensure compliance and manage change in a rapidly evolving media climate

The initiative’s leaders have agreed on five Guiding Principles of Digital Measurement.  These principles are the product of extensive fact-finding and due diligence regarding current measurement offerings and their application to the business of transacting and evaluating advertising effectiveness.  The five principles are built upon the input and consensus garnered from workshops with teams of functional experts and business leaders representing companies across the ecosystem.

Principle #1 – Move to a “viewable impressions” standard and count real exposures online.

Today we count “served impressions” as recorded by ad servers.  Often, ad units are not in a viewable space to the end-user or fail to fully load on the screen – potentially resulting in substantial over-counting of impressions. Viewable exposures are increasingly the norm across other media and better address the needs of brand marketers.

Principle #2 – Online advertising must migrate to a currency based on audience impressions, not gross ad impressions.

Brand marketers target specific audiences.  Marketers need to understand the quality and number of exposures against their targets – and the respective reach and frequency of such exposures.  The existing digital currency makes this extremely difficult.  Moreover, the practice of selling ad impressions makes cross-media comparisons extremely difficult, if not impossible.

Principle #3 – Because all ad units are not created equal, we must create a transparent classification system.

Unlike traditional media, which have a limited number of inventory types (e.g., 30-sec spot, full-page back cover), digital has a myriad of units. A transparent classification system will:

–    Reduce complexity from a creative standpoint
–    Simplify the comparison of ad units across websites
–    Enhance the ability to track how different types of ad inventory drive different outcomes
–    Facilitate planning and evaluation across media

Making Measurement Make Sense advocates a transparent classification system, adhered to by all publishers. Such a system will enable marketers to identify and spotlight the best offerings for brand building, and for other marketing objectives.

Principle #4 – Determine interactivity “metrics that matter” for brand marketers, so that marketers can better evaluate online’s contribution to brand building.

Currently, the industry is awash in digital interaction metrics. However, these metrics are not necessarily relevant for brand marketers.  Aside from click-throughs, there are few standards for enabling reliable comparison across sites.  The industry must identify and define the specific metrics most valuable to brand marketers and define and implement reliable standards for existing metrics.

Principle #5 – Digital media measurement must become increasingly comparable and integrated with other media.

Measurement solutions must facilitate cross media platform planning, buying and evaluating of marketing and media.  This is a substantial issue that hampers analysis and decision making throughout the ecosystem.

According to Bill Koenigsberg, president, CEO and founder of Horizon Media and Chairman of the 4A’s Media Policy Committee, “In addressing measurement issues, these principles will provide a consistent standard of currency across the digital platform.  This will allow the media community to navigate the digital technology landscape in a more reliable manner.”

“Now that industry leaders have defined Guiding Principles of Digital Measurement, the Making Measurement Make Sense initiative is refining and vetting concrete means of advancing these measurement principles,” said Sherrill Mane, SVP Industry Services, IAB.  “The process of developing recommended solutions and communicating a detailed implementation plan is expected to be completed this summer.”

In addition to bringing together the marketers, agencies and publishers to determine measurement solutions, Making Measurement Make Sense is engaging the measurement and research community.  This initiative will build on existing measurement efforts to further the goals of better, streamlined, high quality measurement that reduces supply chain friction.  As such, other industry organizations, including the Media Rating Council (MRC) and the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) are being consulted.  To gauge the feasibility of potential solutions and to encourage innovation, there has been outreach to the leading measurement vendors.

About the ANA
Founded in 1910, the ANA (Association of National Advertisers) leads the marketing community by providing its members with insights, collaboration, and advocacy. ANA’s membership includes 400 companies with 10,000 brands that collectively spend over $250 billion in marketing communications and advertising. The ANA strives to communicate marketing best practices, lead industry initiatives, influence industry practices, manage industry affairs, and advance, promote, and protect all advertisers and marketers. For more information, visit www.ana.net, follow us on Twitter, join us on Facebook, or visit our YouTube channel.

About the IAB
The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) is comprised of more than 500 leading media and technology companies who are responsible for selling 86% of online advertising in the United States. On behalf of its members, the IAB is dedicated to the growth of the interactive advertising marketplace, of interactive’s share of total marketing spend, and of its members’ share of total marketing spend. The IAB educates marketers, agencies, media companies and the wider business community about the value of interactive advertising. Working with its member companies, the IAB evaluates and recommends standards and practices and fields critical research on interactive advertising. Founded in 1996, the IAB is headquartered in New York City with a Public Policy office in Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit www.iab.net.

About the 4A’s
The 4A’s is the national trade association of the advertising agency business. Its membership comprises virtually all of the large, multinational agencies and hundreds of small and mid-sized agencies from across the country. The 1,200 member agency offices served by the 4A’s employ 65,000 people; offer a wide range of marketing communications services, and place 80 percent of all national advertising. The management-oriented association founded in 1917 helps its members build their businesses, and acts as the industry’s spokesperson with government, media, and the public sector. For more information, visit www.aaaa.org, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook or download the 4A’s iOS app in the iTunes Store.