Updated: Digital Execs Say Metrics Are in 'Crisis' | Adweek
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Updated: Digital Execs Say Metrics Are in 'Crisis'

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NEW YORK The most measurable medium’s metrics are a major mess.

So says a group of digital media executives who participated in a measurement-themed panel session today at the Interactive Media Conference hosted by Editor & Publisher and Mediaweek in New Orleans.

Jason Kint, svp, general manager, CBSSports.com, was particularly frank when asked about the state of online measurement. He said the industry “has gone backwards in the past five years. There is a real crisis in metrics right now.”

A major source of the crisis is the proliferation of newer research sources: In attempting to improve metrics, they have actually made things more confusing, Kint said. For example, he mentioned the increasingly common practice of buyers and sellers combining panel-based figures from companies such as Nielsen and comScore with data from analytics companies like Compete and Google. Doing so can lead to inaccurate comparisons and conclusions. “It gets pretty crazy," he said.

Another problem apparently stems from the Web's inherent measurability, with too many publishers fixated on driving up the metrics that advertisers care about -- such as page views -- without considering their sites' user experience, said Christy Tanner, editor in chief and vp, marketing, TV Guide. “If everything you do is based on [driving] advertiser metrics, you’re gonna lose your users,” she said.

CBSSports.com has tried to steer the conversation away from page views and click-throughs toward time spent and user engagement -- areas where it excels. However, it has found old habits hard to break. "A lot of the younger media buyers are looking at page views and CPMs and click-through rates," said Kint. "That’s what they are negotiating on."

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