NEW YORK: Developing comparable metrics, tackling bot fraud and tapping blockchain technology are some tactics which could help enhance audience measurement going forwards, according to Scott McDonald, President/CEO of the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF).

McDonald discussed this topic during a session at the ARF's 2017 Audience Measurement Conference in Jersey City. And he outlined various possibilities for researchers as they seek to gain a true picture of consumer behaviour.

One priority, he suggested, is answering "the question of how we get comparability across the fragmented landscape of television advertising, regardless of platform, screen, or method of distribution". (For more details, read WARC's exclusive report: McDonald cites potential and pitfalls on audience measurement.)

"The pace of change of what we're trying to measure, and of how consumers use media, and of where advertising might be encountered, continues to diversify," he added.

A second issue requiring attention, the ARF's CEO asserted, is "the specific threat to digital audience measurement that arises from bots and non-human traffic, much of it fraudulently introduced into the audience stream".

Relatedly, a third subject cited by McDonald was the potential for using blockchain technology – which underpins Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency – to "manage and reduce the problems coming from supply-chain corruption".

MetaX, an ad-tech provider, is one firm that has actively pursued that agenda by launching "adChain", which employs the blockchain to tag creative and track it on the internet, earlier this year.

Although there have been "incremental improvements" in measuring audiences, McDonald informed the ARF delegates that meaningful room for progress remains. "We still have a way to go," he said.

But while the channels and measurement technologies involved in these efforts may be evolving, ultimately the main goal feeds back into the traditional task facing researchers in this space.

"The size and the nature of a medium's audience is, and has traditionally been, the basis for setting the price for that medium," said McDonald.

"From the media perspective," he further ventured, "if you can't measure it, you can't sell it. And from the advertiser's perspective, if you can't measure it, you don't know what you bought."

Data sourced from WARC