Media analytics, whether online or broadcast, have always been suspect. Accurately determining audience size, user duration and unique visitors is a challenge. With media fragmentation and mobile platforms growth, Nielsen, comScore, Google and Adobe are making major moves in the analysis business. The rush to solve cross-platform ROI will profoundly change media spending in years to come.
The Landscape of Digital Advertising Tools
True analysis maybe the savior for television and radio, or accelerate their move towards streaming-centric business plans. Maybe broadcast has remained more effective than we have given them credit for. We know how poorly display banners can perform, but some websites and targeting tactics make sense. What is the value of a YouTube play compared to television spots or video pre-roll impression? Is a mobile video impression—cell phone, not tablet—more valuable than a desktop video play? Here are the major players summarized:
Nielsen’s purchase of Arbitron is big news for national brands. Combining analytics from television, radio and the web will create a clearer picture of advertising effectiveness. Arbitron’s Personal People Meters, the radio measurement tools that replaced listener diaries, suddenly have greater meaning, collecting data from multiple touch points besides radio. With Arbitron, Nielsen’s cross-platform products should help bridge the divide between broadcast and digital. They will have the ability to paint the big picture for media planners and buyers.
With the DART ad server (formerly DoubleClick), YouTube, Adwords and their free Google Analytics packages, the Mountain View titan is a significant player. If Google TV is successful, they are well-positioned to provide robust analytics packages using multiple touch points. Knowing Google, they might provide the information free to customers, thwarting the significant costs of Nielsen/Arbitron and comScore. As Google continues its pursuit of total ad domination, analytics will be a big factor.
For large national brands, comScore has been the holy grail of determining digital advertising reach. Their numbers are the first step in online ad media planning; reach is followed by frequency and price negotiation. The knock on comScore has been their focus on top 200 websites, and charging publishers six figures for inclusion. As media spends shift to local digital buys, comScore becomes less relevant. Recently comScore has readjusted their mission to include tablets, mobile phones and other media. They are actively pursuing cross-platform analytics also. Download their white paper “Brave New World Digital Manifesto” for more information. They are trying to adjust, but the jury is still out.
When Adobe acquired Omniture in 2009 it marked a new direction for the company, moving beyond creative software and into business processes and insights. Adobe has always bundled software effectively, whether it be typefaces and print production packages, or suites of online creative and programming tools. The Adobe Business Catalyst, part of the $49.99 per month Creative Cloud, plays on their strengths – their relationship with designers. Omniture was the online business’ premiere analytics business, and now is seamlessly incorporated into the package most design teams are buying. Adobe has not cracked the cross-platform code yet. But as a mature software company, they will be a smart, real player.
Reports, blogs and white papers have blamed inaccurate analytics as holding back the online advertising business for years. In 2013 we will see major strides and changes with both online and broadcast media reporting. Radio’s fraudulent Personal People Meter with their tiny sampling pool will become real as Nielsen incorporates Arbitron into the bigger picture. Google is Google, but whenever it touches traditional media it fails. Adobe is close to the source (designers), and will continue effectively bundling analytics to sell expensive creative software. comScore is the biggest question mark. Will they be purchased by Nielsen and create a true analytics titan that big advertisers will be forced buy? The fight is just beginning, and it will be colossal match.