Microsoft Exec Touts Traditional Ad Metrics for Web

NEW YORK Online advertising executives are either arrogant, ignorant or just plain scared of traditional media metrics. And these attitudes are to the industry’s detriment, according to Young-Bean Song, senior director at Atlas Institute, a division of Microsoft.

In a blog entry posted yesterday, Song called for the digital ad industry to consider adapting its approach to metrics to mesh with more traditional measures like reach and frequency. Such a shift is crucial for the medium’s growth, Song argues, particularly when it comes to convincing still-reluctant brand advertisers to shift more dollars online.

“Brand advertising budgets represent about two-thirds of a $186 billion advertising market,” Song wrote. “Yet, only 5 percent of their overall marketing budgets are spent on the Web.”  

That’s in spite of the fact that users spend up to a third of their media consumption time online, not to mention the Web’s reputation for being such an accountability oriented, data rich medium. However, online advertising metrics and data don’t always fit in with the traditional media world’s longstanding systems for marketing mix modeling, which often determine what media tactics make it onto a traditional brand’s flowchart and which don’t. “Guess who’s left out in the cold from all this great ROI analysis, holding a bag of click-through rates that barely register above zero?” Song asked.

A major problem facing the Web is that many digital planners dismiss traditional modeling and metrics, or simply view media like TV as being ‘old.’

“Arguments that we should eschew traditional media metrics for the Web usually come in three flavors,” wrote Song. The first being arrogance: “This camp vehemently believes ‘We’re better than traditional.’”

The second attitude problem recognized by Song is ignorance: “I don’t know what a GRP is [and thus I don’t like it],” he wrote. The last problem is fear. “I’m scared online GRPs are more expensive than television GRPs.”

This kind of thinking is shortsighted, according to Song. Based on recent activity, there are those in the industry who seem to agree. For example, in April the Web video network YuMe and Mindshare got together to introduce the new iGRP metric.

More open-minded approaches of that sort are needed if the industry wants to make strides in getting its fair share of brand dollars, says Song, who’d like to see reach, frequency and GRPs become more commonly used by digital buyers and sellers. 

“The debate comes down to whether you want to beat them or join them,” he wrote. “Everything else we do still matters and creates opportunities that will revolutionize advertising. But let’s start with the basics so we can at least get through the door.”

Nielsen Business Media