Digital media makes for best of times, worst of times for planners

The big 4A advertising industry conference wrapped up in Orlando last week, and one of the things the agency world was wrestling with, some more, was measurement in a fast-eveolving media landscape.

Advertising Age was there and reported back: This year’s 4A’s Media Conference was given the title “Digital Changes Everything.” That much is a truism accepted by most many moons ago, but what became evident as the panels and speeches at this year’s event unfolded is that the digitization of our lives is raising questions a lot of media owners and agencies are far from being able to answer.

The article goes on to say …

In the digital-media space, “we are reaching a point where the traditional measurements are reaching a breaking point,” said Konrad Feldman, the co-founder and CEO of Quantcast, an internet-rating service.

What’s needed, said several media buyers attending the conference, is a more comprehensive system for figuring out how ads perform across multiple platforms. Unfortunately, a panacea simply isn’t at the ready and may not be for months.

“Models right now don’t have the capacity to bring all the touch points together,” said Donna Speciale, president-investment and activation at Publicis Groupe’s MediaVest USA. As more dollars flow from traditional TV and print to digital venues, she said, “we have to determine what the correlations of all the various metrics are across all the platforms.” Ms. Speciale said her agency will focus for the next six months to a year on ways to weave data together to give clients a more comprehensive look at how their ads perform.

It’s easier said than done. This is fast becoming a world filled with niche media: a college-alumni listserv might number in the hundreds; fans of a blog might number in the dozens. But the ad industry has for decades relied on measures that gauge the masses, such as Nielsen ratings and circulation numbers.

Somehow or other, it was suggested at the conference, this mish-mash of media that is everything from broadcast TV to screens on top of ATMs has to be stitched together to compare performance and impact.

Said Marc Goldstein, the CEO of WPP Group’s Group M North America and chair of the 4A’s Media Policy Committee. “It’s a little bit of what Dickens described as the best of times and the worst of times,” he said. “It’s wondrously challenging, dynamic, stimulating and exciting. Yet at the same time, frustrating, uncertain and, at times, confusing. To paraphrase Bette Davis in ‘All About Eve’: Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.”

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