JERSEY CITY, NJ: Scott McDonald, president/CEO of the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) understands the frustration of reinventing metrics in a marketing ecosystem that is in perpetual motion.

“We all sometimes fall into the trap of despair, of thinking that we are not making progress in the field of audience measurement,” he told delegates in the kick-off address to the organization’s 2018 AudienceXScience Conference.

But because armies of research organizations have yet to the land on a final fixed cross-platform metric, he insisted, is not reason for despair.

“If impatience leads to greater investment and sharper focus on solving problems, then I’m all for impatience,” he told delegates at the Jersey City, NJ, gathering.

“But if it leads to despair and cynicism about being able to solve the problems of measurement, then it is lazy and self-defeating.”

An instance of the latter is the frequently heard comment that “measurement is broken”, which McDonald believes is an exaggeration.

“I would hazard a guess that … at least 90% of the viewing minutes are captured by existing audited measurement systems,” he said. But, he continued, by focusing on that 10% gap, “We create the impression of utter chaos.”

In fact, the tools already are in place to determine the size and influence of “a very large proportion of video viewing on both TV and digital platforms [which] can be measured with reasonable precision”.

And while 100% industry consensus on a single unified metric for comparing video content and ad exposures across all platforms and devices has yet to be agreed, “we now have credible proposals such as the MRC’s proposed standard for duration-weighted impressions” – programs that were only imagined by media planners and buyers just a year ago.

Such break-through research tools, he continued, “represent the kind of steady, methodical progress that we expect to see in scientific enterprises – where hypotheses are advanced and then tested empirically and refined or revised on the basis of that feedback”.

McDonald offered an example from the previous year’s gathering, when a suggestion that the industry could mimic the food industry and look into ingredient labeling was followed up and “pressure-tested”.

“Proof-of-concept work is underway now on both voluntary labeling standards and on the development of scalable tools to independently assess the accuracy of commercially available targeting datasets,” McDonald revealed.

“We expect to be able to report on the efficacy of these proposed solutions to industry-identified measurement problems by this fall.”

Sourced from WARC