Indrani Sen: Will Ekam provide the missing links in digital measurement?

10 Apr,2017

By Indrani Sen


Digital media measurement has been breeding a sense of dissatisfaction among global marketers.  Recently, Procter & Gamble chief brand officer Marc Pritchard, was quoted in media that he was tired of waiting for digital platforms to get their measurement act together Pritchard complained about the inadequate viewability data from Facebook, Snapchat, Google, and others who are reaping the benefits of the advertising spends in digital media by all leading brands. The article also referred to Marcos de Quinto, Coca-Cola’s global chief marketing officer, who a few months back criticized his company’s history of digital spending, and stated that TV advertising is still the best investment for brands.


Jeri Smith, chief executive of Communicus, wrote in the above article “So far, only de Quinto has opened up his brand’s books to show evidence of effectiveness. Stating that “TV still offers the best ROI across media channels,” he revealed that Coca-Cola has reaped a return on TV investment of $2.13 for every dollar spent. Their return on digital? Only $1.26 per dollar spent.”


In August 2016, Sir Martin Sorrel had cited the example of Procter & Gamble planning to cut investment in digital ad spends while predicting that the digital ad spend to slow over the next few years All these comments make one wonder if digital media is really overhyped and why the digital industry is unable to get the their measurement act together.


Digital media haveplenty of measurable metrics and other analytical data available in real-time, but a comprehensive measurement of these data across different digital platforms is lacking. The metrics are generally categorised into three groups, according to the flow of any digital marketing campaign from traffic generation to conversion to revenue. Overall site traffic, traffic sources, click through rate, cost per click are typically the traffic metrics which progresses to conversion metrics like conversion rate, cost per lead, average page views per visit, average cost per page view, average time on site, bounce rate, rate of return visitors, etc., followed by calculations of return on investment and cost to acquire a customer. With all these metrics being flaunted by the digital media and organizations like comScoreproviding measurement for cross platform audiences in digital media, why are the global advertisers complaining about the lack of measurement?


Last year, when BARC announced their plan for measuring digital viewership and going beyond audience measurement of broadcast media, it also claimed that BARC will be the first to provide a TV+ Digital viewership measurement service across the globe. The press release issued data “BARC India to Solve the Digital Puzzle with its “EKAM” range of products” announces certain unique offerings in digital measurement. Ekam range of products needs to be studied in greater details through interactions with representatives of BARC to understand their full implications. We will have to wait for another 18-20 months for the reports to roll out before we can sample the results and proclaim it as “EkamevaAdvitiyam” of digital measurement.


The irony is that better tools and techniques of measurement of digital media may not be able to improve on the ROI as the consumer becomes more and more elusive. In the digital age, we are getting bombarded by consumer-led demassification of media which is shrinking the value of the advertising budget. The return on media investment is bound to fall in future with proliferation of media types and vehicles in spite of best efforts through programmatic media planning and buying.


Indrani Sen is an advertising and media services veteran and now an academic. The views expressed here are her own


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