These days, just about everything is done digitally. Consumers can pay their bills, communicate, shop and more, all through a digital source. Therefore, it should come as no shock that media consumption is taking a deep plunge into the digital age. With that plunge come new challenges. A 2017 report by ComScore lists the top 10 burning issues in digital and the impact they have on media consumption.
Digital and TV
Number one on ComScore's list is closing the divide between digital and television. Currently, measuring the consumption of digital and TV media is done quite differently. Inconsistent methods in the way these channels are studied create somewhat unreliable data.
“Consistency and comparability in reporting metrics—such as reach, frequency, and demographics—are paramount, but TV and digital must also be based on the same opportunity-to-see (OTS) standard,” reports comScore.
Digital video, for example, incorporates the visuals of TV with the coverage of digital media. It is a gray area that contributes to the divide between television and digital because it is difficult to measure the OTS standard for ad exposure. It raises questions about the most efficient way to advertise across this medium.
“Differing media makes comparable metrics an issue in digital, particularly due to the prevalence of non-viewable impressions and invalid traffic (IVT), both of which prevent an ad from meeting the OTS standard,” says comScore.
The number two issue in the report deals with advanced audience data. Audience targeting and data allow producers to reach the right consumers. For years, it has played a large role in the way the items are bought and sold.
“Now, with access to big data and technology, we are seeing a shift toward this same type of audience-based buying in TV and cross platform. TV networks, for example, are now making their inventory available for audience-based buys. ... Advanced audience planning paves the way for advanced audiences to be used as a basis for transacting across all screens,” explains comScore.
Advanced audience targeting only adds to the need for consistency when evaluating cross platforms.
The next concern in digital is monetizing mobile. Cell phones and tablets have become major parts of the modern consumer’s life. According to comScore, mobile devices account for two-thirds of time spent on digital media. Even so, it is much more difficult to monetize. The distribution of funds seems to be moving around in an uneven pattern.
“Greater standardization around measurement implementation can help solve the fragmentation problems, a cause which the IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) has recently stepped in to try to address. Aligning mobile with desktop through unduplicated measurement of campaign audiences also helps digital better demonstrate audience scale and provides planners with improved data for more efficient campaign planning,” explains the report.
Measuring the unduplicated reaches across platforms is number four on the list of digital issues. Digital media can be accessed from multiple sources. This presents a new challenge for publications to address how to best assess their value to advertisers. Since many publications use outside companies to help them distribute their media to more audiences, it is important that they are able to measure these numbers for their advertisers.
“Many publishers now have partnerships in place to optimally deliver their content to audiences where they spend most of their time. As apps become the front door through which most digital consumers experience their internet, publishers who want to stay front and center in the minds of their readers must fish where the fish are—and often that's on the biggest social media, video and news platforms,” explains comScore.
Issue number five on comScore’s list is cross-device marketing. Publications often use third-party companies to help them reach the right consumers at the right time on the right digital platform. comScore believes this ability is more important now than ever, and it’s becoming far more accessible due to the use of what’s called a device graph.
“In its simplest definition, a device graph uses common identifiers to create associations between different digital devices, allowing for a holistic view of a person’s media and advertising consumption. This capability helps marketers plan, activate and evaluate audiences and advertising in a unified way,” says comScore.
Next on the list of digital issues concerns programmatic pressure on advertising. Advertisers in the industry are now encountering problems with reaching their target audiences at low prices. On the other hand, publishers are now discovering that attempting to sell products at a low rate is having a negative effect on valuable inventory. In 2016, comScore reported that premium publishers have an average of 67 percent higher branding effectiveness.
“This is a clear reminder of how important it is not to lose sight of ways in which brands persuade audiences to think and feel differently. That’s not to say that programmatic buying and selling of ads still doesn’t have an important place in the efficiency sector of the digital ecosystem, but there must be disciplined use of pre-bid quality checks and post-bid verification, like comScore validated Campaign Essentials, to ensure that advertisers and publishers are getting full value for their money,” says comScore.
The next item on the list is an issue that comScore has reported on in the past. Viewability allows advertisers and publishers to measure the impact an ad may have on the audience. However, it is often used incorrectly.
“Viewability allows us to know if an ad can have an impact and should be seen as table-stakes for any campaign measurement. It is the beginning, not the end, of the conversation. As consumers, we don’t buy a new TV because it has a low defect rate on the production line; we buy it because of the quality of the experience it delivers at the price we’re willing to pay. With digital ads, less focus should be placed on whether the ad is viewable and more focus should be placed on the quality of the ad unit, the ad creative, the audience it reaches, and the context in which it is seen,” the report states.
Botnets and attention
Sifting through large botnets is another issue faced by digital media in 2017. A botnet is a network of computers that are infected with a virus that allows control over the system without the owner’s consent. This issue threatens both advertisers and publishers.
“Undoubtedly, IVT is a problem across all of digital, but it gets worse for high-value inventory because fraudsters tend to chase high CPMs (cost per thousand impressions). Video inventory has become a magnet for IVT with rates running nearly twice as high as display inventory and growing at a much faster rate,” explains comScore.
The value of a consumer’s attention is another hot topic in comScore’s report. Measuring the attention received by audiences can help evaluate the effectiveness of an ad. The more the attention increases, the more impact an ad can have.
“Marketers who only seek out impressions or clicks at the lowest CPM open themselves up to poor-quality impressions, low engagement sites, and potentially non-brand safe environments,” says comScore.
Number 10 and last on the digital issue list is advertising attribution. ComScore explains that many marketers are still using fairly outdated means of measuring advertising. For example, when evaluating a market plan, many still use first-click or last-click attribution, even though there are more advanced methods available.
“Cross-platform campaign measurement can help determine which channels are most effective. Descriptive impression-level data such as placement type, ad format, creative, media placement and demographic reached provides more avenues for analysis to figure out which variables are working. Diagnostic metrics like viewability and invalid traffic help filter out the effects of ads that can’t drive any impact. And finally, the ability to link impressions to outcomes—whether that’s a lift in attitudinal metrics, behavior, in-store sales or other dependent variables—quantifies the magnitude of the advertising effects,” reports comScore.