Online Audience Measurement: Don’t Just Measure – Discover

As digital marketing enters a new decade, the need for reliable methods of online audience measurement is more prevalent than ever. While advancements in technology have created new forms of digital media, traditional audience measurement systems have failed to keep pace with changes in consumer behavior.

Advertisers and marketers have long searched, with mixed results, for proof that their campaigns are effective. For the interactive industry, integrity in audience measurement is a fundamental necessity. After all, accurate reporting and transparency is critical when planning media, segmenting audiences and optimizing marketing mixes.

However, the methodologies that most media is measured by today are 70-years old. Panel-based research was initially developed to help radio advertisers understand how many listeners were exposed to their campaigns. Ironically, not much has changed in the world of media measurement.

But just think about some of the innovations that have been made in the digital landscape. From social media to streaming video, the internet has clearly changed the way users consume media. This level of interaction has rendered standard metrics like clicks or page views all but useless.

Clearly, online advertisers need deeper insights than simply learning how many consumers they’ve reached. In today’s competitive atmosphere, where targeting very specific audiences is increasingly important, these old-world measurement methodologies are becoming less relevant.

Some of the most innovative digital trends seen over the past year have been centered on the new opportunities created for marketers to leverage data for better audience targeting and measurement.

Transactional, behavioral and search data can now be blended to better define and discover your customers. What’s more, the ability to leverage offline data such as retail transaction history and household-level demographics has created the most effective form of addressable media to date. With this level of data, marketers will be able to gain a deeper understanding of their audience, including being able to measure the effectiveness of their true reach and response.

Ultimately, these insights will help marketers discover what data elements are most highly correlated with clicks and conversions, and what sites are indexing the highest so they can optimize media plans to continue targeting specific users based on these discoveries.

Being able to reach a targeted audience rather than investing in the mass distribution of marketing messages will drive better results through precision and cost savings. This can occur by moving beyond simple audience measurement to true audience discovery.

Today there are technologies that enable such discovery, both online and off. You’ll be hearing a great deal about them in the coming months, so make sure that your research partner understands how to leverage this new wave of measurement to your benefit.

Scott Knoll is general manager of the Aperture Division of Datran Media, a New York City-based digital martketing technology company. Reach Scott at