Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Exposing Exposures

Josh Chasin, the Chief Research Officer for comScore, wrote an interesting piece the other day about making sense of metrics.

The part I found to be the most interesting was this. As Mr Chasin put it, “Basically, in media math we’ve always had two core metrics, how many (reach) and how much (frequency). The product of these two metrics is GRPs. But the concept of GRPs a priori assumes that every piece of inventory – each exposure, each impression, each media vehicle – are of equal value, which we all know intuitively is not the case.”

What Mr Chasin is saying, and saying correctly, is that all impressions are not created equal. That we need some way to measure the quality of the experience that the consumer has with the commercial.

Don’t we already have that?

Doesn’t the consumer tell us how much he’s liking the quality of the experience with the commercial by how long he hangs around to watch the commercial? And don’t we measure view duration already?

In other words, along with how many (reach) and how much (frequency) we need to add another measurement – how long (view duration).

If this measurement exists, which it does, why hasn’t it been already been added to the evaluation of a media plan?

Two reasons.

Number one, the how long measurement is extremely low. If media agencies share this with their clients, their clients will be less motivated to spend loads of money on reach and frequency.

Reach and frequency represents the currency that media buying companies thrive on. Why introduce a measurement that devalues their currency?

The second reason is that media agencies know that what they do has little to do with view duration. The reason that consumers continue to view a message or not is strictly due to the creative itself.

Media agencies do not want to be held accountable for something that they have no control over.

There is a third reason as well but perhaps best not to get into here. An impression without view duration doesn’t really make much of an impression at all, does it? In other words, view duration indicates not only whether or not an impression has been made, but whether it was made effectively.

Being exposed to a commercial and having it make an impression on you are two very different things. Media agencies sell exposures. Creative agencies create impressions.

Nobody wants to hear that creative is the new media. But creative is what has always made media effective or not.

By measuring view duration we expose exposures as an irrelevant metric. And, a failed currency.

That, in truth, is one of the reasons that we’re in the mess we’re in today in regards to metrics.

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