The Digital Media Thicket

Feb 9, 2021 | Digital

This week, Advertising Age published a story on some major players, including the likes of Coca-Cola and AT&T, coming together to push through an overhaul of online media measurement to help add improved value to the advertiser. To sum up the article, it all comes down to creating a reliable and universal means for measuring digital ad space. If you buy digital ads, you know that it can be a struggle dealing with media outlets and their own accounts of performance. Accounts which are based on information they control and measure, not an independent organization.

Being called the “3Ms,” which stands for “Making Measurement Make Sense,” made up of the combined forces of many influential organizations and brands, is hoping to create enhanced standards for measuring digital advertising and how it is bought and sold.

Most marketers struggle with nagging questions pertaining to digital and are taking a deep sigh of relief right now. Some of those nagging questions include how many impressions are paid for that only show up below the fold of the page and may never be scrolled to? And what about impressions that are accounted for but not actually viewed by the audience – like when someone hits a page and leaves immediately?

For Gavin Advertising’s clients, we’re constantly digging into data and probing media outlets about true value. So we welcome 3Ms push for change. Accountability and independent measurements will forge the way for more confident investing in new media.

Included among those changes being evaluated by 3Ms are:

  • Redefining an online ad impression from any ad served to a screen to counting only impressions where at least half the ad is visible for at least a second.
  • Developing a third-party online audience-measurement system that can be used as a currency in media deals, akin to what TV, radio and print long have had.
  • Defining a common set of online display and video ad formats to give buyers a better idea of the types of inventory that exist and what value they should command.

While it may be another year before anyone starts seeing changes put into place – and yet another year after that before smaller media outlets can catch up – marketers large and small should be paying close attention now. It’s likely going to be a heck of a mess for a while, but all necessary to achieve an improved state of digital advertising.

So, what to do? Well, there are two things you should prepare for specifically, other than the obvious figuring out how to apply the changes to your media approach.

The first is keeping up with the changes and holding your media outlets accountable as the improvements funnel down to smaller outlets, which will take longer to be adopted by those with less sophisticated backend systems. It can be anticipated that the numbers you are used to dealing with are going to change, and media reps are going to dig in their heels on the equations being used.

The second is preparing for how to deal with regular performance inquisitions. Most marketers are aware of what we mean. While you strategically place media that makes sense for creating influence, increasing brand equity and driving action across various platforms, most questions you get are in regards to delivering quantifiable reports. The ROI on every dollar invested on a digital impression and a measurable action taken by someone in front of a screen is under unique scrutiny compared to traditional media. Educating your senior teams will have to be part of your preparation for the new changes. Especially, as you are presented with mixed signals from different media outlets and left to decipher the numbers to deliver a consistent report to the powers that be.

Keeping up with all the changes in recent years has been quite the digital media thicket, and it’s going to become a thicker thicket in the very near future.

You can read the entire Advertising Age article here. 

Also see the IAB’s overview of the 3Ms here.