Perspective on metrics

Since time immemorial, there have been two major questions that have been consistently troubling advertisers.

  1. The number of people that have been exposed to an advertisement
  2. How effective was the advertisement

Whether it is television, print or radio the basics of audience measurement have remained the same yet, extracting exact information and a proper set of metrics has always been a problem. Before delving into metric design for mobile, let us take a brief look at the issues with respect to traditional forms of advertising.

Traditional Media Measurement Issues

Incase of traditional media there is a lot of approximation and extrapolation. Most measurement systems, measure the media the ad resides in and not the advertisement exactly. A peoplemeter records the duration of a program and how many people watch it and based on that decides the likelihood of an ad being watched, but whether or not anybody actually watched the ad is not known. There could be cases where the advertisement is just playing in the background and nobody is really paying any attention to it. All audiences are again not fully represented. Even incase of print, the circulation of a magazine or paper is known and again on this basis, the effectiveness of an ad is decided. There are subscription miscounts and there is no real correlation between subscribing to a magazine and viewing an ad in it. There are surveys to find if the audience has been exposed to a particular ad. After a few days, the audience cannot recall if they have seen an ad or not. Even if a person saw an ad there is no exact way to find out what exact impact it had on him, since it is related to purchase behaviour. Many of these problems are countered by the internet owing to better measurement capacities here, yet even here there are problems related to cookies and web 2.O applications.

Does mobile have the ability to solve these issues?

In mobile data, everything gets logged and measured. Though mobile will have its set of problems, it has the capacity to follow a transaction and measure the impact of an ad. When mobile phones become payment devices the effectiveness of an ad to the finest transaction detail possible can be recorded. Operators can enable better measurement systems on the mobile though currently a lot of third party measurement systems are being done. Companies like Telephia and M: Metrics are using mobile metering applications and surveys to measure impact of an ad and its effectiveness. A number of internet measurement models are currently being used on the mobile. CPM (cost per mille), Pay per click (PPC), Cost per call and Cost per Action are actually measurement metrics used widely in the internet and are being used currently in mobile too. But all internet models are not applicable to the mobile and there needs to be a more specific measurement system. CPM is one of the best cross-industry metric, yet it might not be exactly effective for mobile media. CPM was actually designed for print which was a large horizontal media in the sense that it had a big reach and was broadcast to a big chunk of the population. Here a CPM model makes sense. Even incase of websites which have a huge presence, a CPM model makes sense. The demographic is widespread and the advertiser knows that only around 5% of the total reach is his target population. But mobile sites have niche audiences. They offer high targeting capabilities and are specifically customized for a specific set of the population. A CPM model which is developed with broadcasting abilities in mind is not apt for a more targeted medium like the mobile. The ideal measure would be a cost per engagement model, the details of which are mentioned later. At the same time there are many complexities associated with measuring data on the mobile. The complexities associated with respect to measuring mobile media are highlighted below:

  1. Mobile media engulfs a number of other forms of media. Mobile already has radio, television can be viewed on mobile, mobile news alerts is possible and internet usage on the mobile is also on an increase. Each of these media come in with their own set of limitations with respect to metrics and more importantly there is no common measurement system that can compare internet usage on a mobile vs. Television viewing on the mobile. Absence of a standardised framework and the co-existence of a number of forms of media on one single media is a big challenge.
  2. As illustrated in the previous section, the number of different channels available in a mobile for advertising is again many. Due to the sheer number of options available and the number of ways each option can be further broken into, it becomes difficult to develop a universal set of metrics that is not only applicable to each individual channel but is also useful across different media.
  3. The customers data incase of mobile are tightly controlled by the operators/service providers. Though a number of efforts are being put by the MMA (Mobile Marketing Association), unless the operators release this data, a proper unified metrics cannot be formed.
  4. There are a number of operating systems that different mobile phones work on. The pace at which technology is changing, poses greater challenges in developing analytics solutions for mobiles.

Towards a better metric system

Keeping the complexities associated with the mobile in mind a framework has been developed and the metric systems will branch out of this framework. Mobile metrics and campaign success measurement are an extension of what is present in the internet, yet the measurement system incorporates the various the various complexities discussed above in mind. The targeting in mobile will be with more usage, user and engagement data in smaller niches and much closer to the point of decision. The section below discusses a five point framework for measuring mobile campaigns. The five point framework is:

  1. Reach
  2. Targeting
  3. Engagement
  4. Viral effects
  5. Transactions

Reach

Reach is one of the most oft used parameters and is applicable across media. It is understood by various forms of media and yet is applicable to mobile media too. Mobile is one media which has a very high reach currently in India and it is extremely necessary to track the number of people a mobile ad has reached. Mobile with its higher tracking abilities has a better ability at frequency management when compared to other media. Advertisers can control the number of times an ad is relayed to a user and frequency tuning can be done on a per-user basis. Other metrics that could be used are frequency to conversion ratio and ad exposure time. These are metrics especially applicable for rich media. Reach is just one parameter and it has to be used in conjunction with other parameters which are detailed below.

Targeting

One factor where the mobile phone beats many of its media counterparts is the level of targeting possible. From an advertisers perspective, mobile is the only medium that can uniquely identify each consumer. Every mobile phone user has a unique phone number, an address and an identified sex which makes it easier to target him. Targeting is the key to ad growth in mobile media. A few questions that needs to answered related to targeting are:

  1. How can operators use the consumer data they have to help advertisers reach their target audiences in a more effective manner?
  2. How can operators help advertisers use the data to monetize their media?
  3. How can operators achieve all this without divulging off any private data to the advertisers?

Hence, any measurement system must not just measure how many are being targeted (reach), it also needs to measure who is being targeted. Because any ad is made for a specific audience and only that particular audience will find the ad the most engaging. Guaranteeing a high reach without getting the ad to reach its intended audience is ineffective advertising. Hence, the level of targeting that can be achieved is of paramount importance. The level of targeting can be measured by using many parameters. One could be the target size to impressions ratio. The higher this number, the more targeted the campaign is. This parameter gives an indication of how targeted the campaign can be. If the number of consumers that need to be targeted and the number of impressions served are nearly the same, then it is a highly targeted campaign.

Engagement

As discussed earlier, one of the major ways to attract consumers to a platform and retain them is to make it engaging. More the engagement with a particular content, higher will be the chance that the marketing message gets across. While targeting measured the quality of the visitor engagement adds to it by measuring the quality of the visit. Great user experiences are indispensable to achieving higher levels of engagement. The following parameters below discuss how engagement could be measured:

Duration

The amount of time a consumer spends with a particular advertisement/marketing effort more is the engagement. Time spent and engagement is directly proportional. It directly draws from the fact that as the time spent with interacting with an advertisement increases, greater the chance that it will be consumed.

View-through rates

Visiting a site without a direct ad click through, also known as view-through rate is indicative of the recall ability of the site and hence translates into engagement.

Interactivity

Interactivity refers to the ability of the content to generate multiple actions from the users. Clicks, forwards, comments, podcast, sharing, subscriptions or RSS feeds, download, trackbacks are all examples of interaction and measuring this measure engagement in return.

Permissions

With permissions, the consumer is actively seeking for updates and information and is indirectly making himself a part of the campaign. Permissions hence take engagement levels several notches higher.

Viral effects

Today, on one end is the marketer designing campaigns to market a product. On the other hand is the consumer who himself acts as a marketer and spreads messages about the product. Ina highly digital era consumers are all the more potent to make or build a brand. Highly engaged customers become the medium for a message and in today's oversaturated and fragmented media world; messages and ideas need to be contagious enough to increase the reach. Marketers have to keep in mind the ability of social networks and it's multiplying effect in spreading a message. Technology has enabled users to not only consume an ad but also share it with others if they like it. The viral effects of a medium also need to be taken into consideration. A combination of the number of people viewing and the number of times it gets shared is an apt measure for viral effects.

Transactions

The ultimate aim of any branding/marketing initiative is to cause sales. Though it is a futuristic model for many businesses, mobile devices in India currently have payment systems which can complete transactions. There are various parameters using transactions can be measured and evaluated. They are discussed in detail below.

Postclick Conversions

This involves making a purchase after clicking on an ad. Search results are one of the major ways though which clicks are generated. Search engine marketing and search engine optimization play a major role in generating clicks.

Offline sales lift

The increase in sales offline owing to marketing activities through the mobile is measured using offline sales lift. There are many sweepstakes where coupons are distributed and users are encouraged to redeem them. Tracking these mobile coupons and checking if they have been claimed is one way of measuring offline sales lift.

Brand Impact lift

This is an indirect way to measure transaction as it related to measuring parameters which on the long run lead to greater sales. Here metrics like brand awareness, message association, purchase intent, brand favourability and ad awareness are measured to trace the impact of marketing activities.

This five point framework is a very potent method to run campaigns, measure them and also compare them with campaigns in the same as well as other media. Hence, the framework is ideal to compare mobile media with other advertising media, evaluating which channel works best in a given geography or network, and provides a way to measure strategy and performance across the five elements. The total return on advertising can be summed up as:

The Return on Advertising is a sum of all the factors that contribute to the effectiveness of the advertisement. Wr, We, Wt, Wv and Wt all are coefficients applied to the various parameters to weigh them appropriately. The importance of the parameters like reach, engagement, targeting etc. might vary from campaign to campaign and hence the importance of the weighted coefficients.

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