Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Questioning comScore’s Conclusion

Very nice presentation given by the Director of Product Management of comScore at yesterday’s OMMA Video Conference in NYC.

The conclusion being that the online platform could use more ads. A lot more ads.

The reason is as follows. While watching TV, 25% of our time is spent with ad media, i.e. commercials. When it comes to online viewing, only 1% of our time is spent with ad media.

And, according to comScore, people won’t mind additional commercials. This is because of those people who watch TV content online, only 38% cited fewer ads as the primary reason to do so.

To me, comScore has jumped to the wrong conclusions, based on past parameters - since much less of our time is spent watching commercials online, the answer is more commercials online. If commercials were limited in length to fifteen or thirty seconds, comScore might be right. But on the online platform, there’s no limit to commercial length. If the opportunity were that more time could be spent with commercials online, then an equally valid conclusion would be longer commercials rather than more commercials.

Interestingly enough, time spent with advertising seems to be finally achieving the respect it rightfully deserves.

TubeMogul recently came out with some research that said that completion rates (time spent) for Facebook ads were roughly 5.5% to 9.5% higher than identical videos run in display units on outside publisher sites.

Does this make Facebook a more valuable place to run commercials than other publishers' sites? To many marketers, that answer will be yes.

Obviously, comScore will come back by saying that the reason we need more commercials rather than longer commercials is because platforms are monetized through distribution, not duration. Through how many, rather than how long.

And, that’s true. But only because we have not been able to measure how long viewers have stayed engaged with our commercials in the past.

We can now.

And, the fact is, online publishers can make as much money by selling duration data as they can impression data. Which means that one, 2-minute spot can bring in as much money to the publisher as four, 30-second spots.

The result. More money with less clutter. It seems like a win/win, doesn’t it?

But c’mon, you can’t make people sit through 2-minute spots; there would be a revolt. Correct. People will need to be able to opt-out of spots when they’re no longer of interest to them. But that doesn’t make the data any less valuable, does it? As a marketer, I want to know how much of my commercial was consumed. A second not watched is as valuable a piece of information as a second watched. So, I’m paying the publisher for two minutes worth of data on a two-minute spot regardless of how long it was watched for.

Is the publisher accountable for duration? No. The publisher is only accountable for being able to deliver the data that allows the marketer to make their creative agency accountable for duration.

The comScore conclusion keeps us in the old mindset that share of voice = share of mind = share of market.

That’s an analog mindset.

On the digital platform, share of time = share of mind = share of market.

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