Contrary to the bullshit we were sold about online advertising, measuring online media has turned out to be a nightmare.
One of the biggest problems is the reliability and veracity of audience measurement.
Audience measurement has always been a pseudo-science in the ad business. But online advertising has achieved spectacular heights of unreliability. Sadly the situation seems to be getting worse, not better.
Apparently, there is so much corruption, fraud, and bullshit that nobody knows how to measure this stuff properly.
This week Nielsen, which is trying to develop a reliable method for measuring online audiences, asked the Media Rating Council (MRC), the body that verifies media audiences, to put off accrediting its Digital Ad Ratings service for six months. This comes in the wake of the MRC revoking the accreditation of two other online rating services — Triton Digital and C3 Metrics.
The back story on this is that for years Google and Facebook have refused to abide by the standards set by the MRC and have been marking their own homework with audience metrics that have been shown to be wildly unreliable.
The weak-kneed ad industry has accepted this with some mealy-mouth whining but not an ounce of backbone or action.
After 25 years of online advertising, we’re not any closer to being able to verify the horseshit we’re being fed by online media.
Bob Hoffman is author of five Amazon #1 selling books about advertising. He also writes the almost-weekly Ad Contrarian Newsletter.