Attention Media Buyers: Brace Yourself for Verbiage

On April 16th the Association of Downloadable Media released two documents relating to Unit Standards and Download Measurement Guidelines. This is the main thrust of what the ADM was put together for…being able to bring some semblance of standardization to a medium that thrives on not having any.

My point to applying metrics to podcasting, etc has always been to provide a way of proving that the media is reaching users and it actually works for those who choose to advertise through that media. These new standards and guidelines move to do this, but still have a way to go.

The first document outlining unit standards is quite straight forward. Not much need to dwell on this one, though the phrase “Sponsored Interstitials” sounds more like invasive surgery than an advertising vehicle. Point of fact; interstitial, according to Webster, relates to interstices meaning a space that intervenes between things. Actually one of the definitions for interstitial itself is; situated within but not restricted to or characteristic of a particular organ or tissue. Ouch. I’d rethink this one.

The second document outlining measurement guidelines will scare the living crap out of any media buyer. This will take some serious education. Look, I pride myself on being able to translate new media speak to traditional media speak…and this one took me a few brain cells to get. (I also won’t swear to the fact I completely get all of it.) But I do get that the bottom line on these guidelines is to make sure your metrics are based on reality, not fantasy. Depending on their source, all downloads or IP requests are not created equal. What the ADM is trying to get to is what counts and what doesn’t as a download and the advertising therein. Buyers want to know they are spending money on reaching people not web robots, spiders, and crawlers (All together now, eeeeewwwww!).

Though this is a start, one that is necessary and one that you can freely comment on, it’s still all based on quantity not quality. Perhaps that’s something that can never really be standardized. Yes, we need to provide real numbers of real users but we, as online media providers, need to prove that we are impacting them as well. Moving them to act, giving the advertiser real return on investment.

Provide a consistent language and standard of measurement? Yes. Educate the buyer on those standards? Oh yeah!  But look to move past just this “quantity of audience”. Traditional media has based their livelihood on it and it is really starting to kick their butts.

You Speak. Who Hears? Who Listens?

As I spend more and more time peeling back the layers of communicating in the new millennium I’m always impressed at the amount of tools available to send a message or start a conversation. With so many gadgets and applications pouring out of the cloud it’s clear you need to investigate using some of them to reach your audience. Whoever that audience is, customers, friends, relatives, even pets can be reached in so many ways.

But, as exciting as it is to see all of these innovations develop, if you want to be truly effective in your communication, you can’t get swept up in the buzz of it all. Remember…remain calm.

The fact is that you need to have a clear understanding of who your audience is and what tools they use. If you try and reach them through a medium they don’t use…well…the point would be?

For example, my wife and I are spending more and more time texting each other throughout the day. It’s a great way for us to juggle the ever changing plans between our work, kids, and friends. It’s quick and unobtrusive. In fact, it has saved my butt more than a few times. See, I tend to space off phone messages and it’s easy for me to just text my bride as soon as I hang up the phone. The point is that we are starting to text so much I’ve thought about using Twitter or AIM or some other service. Then I realize my wife has no desire to use any of the tools. Because a) she doesn’t sit at a computer all day and b) her cell phone doesn’t have a data option. Yeah, I know all these services have a SMS option but the fact is…why bother if SMS works just fine?

And that’s the point; your audience has the same attitude. Unless it will profoundly improve their lives they’re just fine with where they are right now. Unless what you are trying to communicate is really revolutionary, you must reach them through the channels that exist and the ones they use. Don’t start the process of building a relationship with someone by introducing a new technology or changing their habits. They will better listen to your message in the environment they are comfortable in.

Your path of least resistance is to find out what they use. Who are you trying to reach? How old are they? How interested in your message and how do they hear about it? Believe it or not, adoption of new things is a relatively slow process. In most cases slow enough to date your message if you try using the “next big thing”.

That means…research…at what ever level you can. It’s better to spend the money and the time to get to look at the habits of your audience than spend the time and money whizzing in the wind.  Over the next weeks, as I continue to try and keep up, I’ll start tearing into many of these tools and we can find out some of the best and worst ways to reach your audience. Do remember, what may be ineffective today may be the “text messaging” for next week. Our goal is to use the right ones at the right time…now.

Converting to a new “Metrics” System

If you’re over the age of 45 you are probably thinking about
the movement to convert the U.S. to the metric system. Remember, we were going to measure stuff just like the
rest of the world? (Try as we might, us wacky Americans just couldn’t seem to
get the hang of the whole x10 deal.)

What I’m referring to is the new media and online business “metrics”
system. The metrics we use to measure the success of online advertising. As I’ve
addressed many times in this blog, new media needs to offer proof of its
success in generating traffic for advertisers. I have always maintained that we
are enjoying a buzz factor resulting in substantial amounts of money pouring
into online advertising. It’s vital to get a better handle on how we measure
the results because it’s only a matter of time before those advertisers want
proof that their investment works. Who knew that time would be…gulp…quite so

In an October 22nd New York Times article titled,
“How Many Site Hits? Depends Who’s Counting.” author Louise Story points out
the disparity in the site visit and page view numbers provided by the different
companies supplying metrics (Nielsen, ComScore, etc.). Say hello to the first
drop of what could result in a flood of media buyers pointing out “reasons we
shouldn’t spend so much on web advertising.”

The numbers in question continue to be based on the way we
measure TV, Radio and Newspaper. “How many see it? How many hear it? How many
read it?” I would submit that we need to focus on “Who uses it?” New media
advertising offers something to the consumer that no other media does…instant
interaction. Clicking on a banner, downloading a video or podcast, that’s
something you can measure. In fact, I think that if a new media ad inspires someone
to take immediate action its worth more
than a TV, Radio, or Newspaper ad.

But, this goes beyond even “clicks”. Let’s invest the money
and go a step further. Do the research and go beyond quantity. Take the
opportunity that a new advertising medium is laying out to us. Provide
information on the quality of the users and the experience they have. Start
training media buyers now on how new media consumers take advantage of the
advertising they interact with. Mass media is OK but, commitment and loyalty
(brought about by the user experience) is so much better. We need to start
working now on establishing a new style of metrics (just as organizations like
the ADM is earnestly working to do).

New media offers us a chance to advertise and market in a
whole new way. Let’s stop trying to measure it in a whole old way.