The Challenges of Online Audience Measurement Using the Online Publishers Asociation and Amatomu.com as case studies
Challenges in general It may seem that internet useage is simply quantifiable but, in fact, it is quite complex to define how raw data must be filtered
Challenges in general As an example, web server log files record all outbound traffic, regardless of the user agent. Not all traffic goes to people, a substantial amount goes to crawlers and spambots.
Challenges in general The net result is inconsistency in reporting and a general lack of trust.
Challenges in general Another challenge is accurate geolocation of vistors. Systems that do this accurately are expensive.
Challenges in general Another challenge is a widepread lack of understanding about the technical aspects of reporting and what various statistics mean. A good example of this is the confusion between hits, impressions, visits and unique vistors.
Challenges in general Hits: individual files sent from a server Impressions: a complete page Visits: a series of pages served to a vistor in a session Unique visitors: people visiting a site over a predefined period
Challenges in general The problem: one impression = many hits one visit = many impressions one unique visitor = many visits
Why is this a serious problem? The spread of reporting types and the variability causes a lack of credibility for the industry as a whole. Credibility of reporting is vital for advertiser confidence.
How is advertising and measurement connected? The most common billing mechanism for online advertising is Cost Per Thousand (impressions ). Reporting is used to determine ad placement, campaign planning and reconciliation at the end.
How is advertising and measurement connected? As more complex advertising models like Cost Per Click and Cost Per Acquisition emerge, the reporting requirements become more stringent and standardisation becomes more important.
The Online Publishers Assocation The South African online media industry formed an association to (among other things ) standardise the way audience figures are recorded and reported.
How did they do it? By agreeing to 3rd party auditing by Nielsen//NetRatings and the out-sourcing of measurement systems.
Immediate Benefits Advertisers can analyse media products comparatively and use this information to plan campaigns and ad spend. They can do this with the knowledge that the information is credible, standardised across all the member sites and is based on 3rd party reporting algorithms.
Immediate Benefits Site owners can access detailed reporting about their own sites, across all key metrics using an online reporting tool. These reports can be used for trend analysis, content planning and various other strategic purposes.
Immediate Benefits Comparative market analysis becomes possible with national site rankings according to local and international unique broswers and page impressions.
Immediate Benefits Demographic data is capured by random sample surveys operated by the Nielsen//Netratings system. This yields demographic reports that can be filtered by publisher or publication, and comparatively. This helps publishers identify their unique selling opportunities.
The end result Increased advertiser confidence and increased site revenues. Publishers understand their position in the market and sell accordingly. Publishers have access to a high-quality auditing system at a fraction of the price.
Why was the OPA successful? All of the really big players were on board from the early stages and supported the project. It is unlikely that the system would have worked if there were big gaps at the top-end of the publisher list.
The effects of Web 2 As the role of media companies change from single to multiple platform media, Web 2 has made a massive impact on how media companies understand content.
Web 2 Is the articulation of several technologies with new uses that encourage increased levels of audience feedback and, in many instances, the creation of their own content. As it applies to news and media companies, citizen journalism, blogging and social media are the three most aparent trajectories.
Content is …? The key question about content in this model is not one of quality but of the level of audience participation in its production and consumption. In the social media sphere, the audience filters is own content and so hierarchies of taste emerge that are disconnected from traditonal notions of quality.
Amatomu Amatomu is a national blog aggregator developed in response to the following strategic decisions and observations about the local blogging community. 1. The Mail & Guardian Online identified blogging as a central element to its social media strategy for several reasons that can be dealt with during Q&A
Amatomu 2. The South African blogging audience was fragmented because the publishers were fragmented 3. There was no standardised audience measurement tool that could be used to determine who the top bloggers are, what the size of the audience as a whole is, what people are blogging about etc.
What does Amatomu do? Aggregates blog content on an opt-in basis Creates a central hub for blog readers who want search and browse capability based on categories and tags Measures audience patterns in a similar way to the OPA system but in a less sophisticated manner Forms a public space for the organisation of debate
Benefits for the Mail & Guardian Gives us market intelligence Increases audience loyalty Provides a service that can amount to some public good Opens up future commercial models in this space
Problems with current measurement systems Measuring video Dealing with CPA auditing and its complexities Disjunctures between ad-serving and page counting systems that undermine standardisation
Demonstration Amatomu SiteCensus Google Analytics