One of the biggest challenges for digital advertising adoption in Canada has been a lack of reliable third-party performance measurement tools and standards to assess the impact of an online campaign. Many online advertisers are forced to rely on gross impressions purchased or publisher traffic data to ballpark the reach of their campaigns.
Those measurements can have little or no relationship with how many target consumers are actually seeing and engaging with ads.
At the Brightroll Video Summit earlier this month in Toronto, ComScore Canada president Brent Bernie and Google Canada’s head of market insights, Owen Charlebois, discussed what needs to change to make digital display and video a more quantifiable advertising channel.
Bernie started off by describing the most pressing limitations digital advertisers face. Many measurement tools, like BBM’s forthcoming nonlinear audience measurement for online television, don’t differentiate between content and ads, which presents difficulties for campaign measurement and doesn’t integrate well with programmatic targeting.
Bernie also advocated for a move away from panel measurement to a mix of panel- and census-based measurement, something that ComScore’s chief competitor Nielsen has already done by integrating Facebook audience data with its panel measurement. While panels have long been the standard in TV-measurement, the consensus is that they simply aren’t large enough to accurately represent online users.
Charlebois took a more long-term view, describing a “moonshot” objective characteristic of Google’s optimism for the future. The measurement system Google envisions has several key attributes: it’s cross-screen and device agnostic; it doesn’t depend on small-sample panels; it’s accurate; it’s flexible and open; it’s conversion-focused; it’s not recall based; and it’s available in real-time.
In a best-of-all-possible-worlds scenario, this solution could be ready in three to five years, Charlebois said. The biggest impediment he sees to that future is funding. For measurement to improve, research dollars need to flow.
Bernie and Charlebois agreed that digital advertising is held to a higher performance standard than traditional media, but they also agreed that’s a good thing. “We’re the most measurable medium,” said Bernie. “We need to be accepting of the fact that that’s the mantle we put out there, and we need to rise to that.”
“If we are being held to a higher standard, that’s great,” said Charlebois. “Because we’re going to take television with us into this digital future.”
All the difficulties of online measurement are multiplied for mobile. Bernie said that by some estimates, 50% of consumers’ online activity comes from mobile devices, and yet neither ComScore nor Nielsen have released a mobile measurement solution in Canada. ComScore is set to launch a mobile panel in Q2 next year, but it will face the size and reliability limitations that both experts described.
Watch the full panel discussion above for the experts’ views on multi-screen measurement, data privacy, attribution methodology, and the transition from TV to digital.