If advertising’s impact cannot be accurately measured, then media brands can’t effectively monetize their inventory, and advertisers will continue to hold back ad dollars and resist adopting new media formats. In our 2018 Advertising Measurement Report, insights from interviews of more than 300 marketers and agency professionals show that inadequate measurement has real-world implications for where and how ad dollars are spent.

The measurement industry may best be described by the adage “two steps forward, one step back.” Despite recent advances, the industry is hampered by ongoing limitations – and these limitations are very much top-of-mind with advertisers. In several instances of our ongoing work, when asking advertisers to identify the biggest issues facing them, measurement typically dominates the response.

Measurement Issues Dominate Advertisers’ Biggest Challenges…

  • Measurement has multiple shortcomings – from an inability to measure across screens holistically, to identifying where to attribute success to an over-reliance on cookies
  • Accuracy – getting to the true value – is the one thing many advertisers want to solve for
  • Quality measurement impacts how many ad dollars are spent and where
  • While advertisers don’t put all the blame on measurement providers, they are very open to doing business with new (to them) measurement companies

Only about 1 in 9 advertisers is extremely satisfied with the current state of ad measurement. What may be even more troubling is that a majority believe the quality of advertising measurement has remained flat or declined over the past year.

In our report, we dive deeply into these challenges seeking to understand the one thing about ad measurement that advertisers want improved. It is telling that foundational elements like accuracy and transparency are most commonly mentioned. We again see ROI and cross-platform as significant issues. The measurement experience also needs improvement, as seen by the frequency of mentions around ease of integration and use, and faster reporting.

The impact of ad measurement limitations go beyond data scientists and researchers. Quality measurement – or lack thereof – has significant revenue implications. Sub-par measurement impacts where ad dollars are spent – or not spent. Broadly put, if it can’t be measured, it can’t be monetized. This can hinder advertiser adoption of newer platforms (e.g., OTT, streaming radio, VR/AR), where measurement is only now catching up to consumer use. As the pace of media innovation continues to increase, this issue will only exacerbate.

Interestingly, when we assess who should be held most accountable for the state of measurement, and who is most responsible for advancing it, advertisers do not lay it all at the feet of ad measurement companies. Our report surfaces two advertiser viewpoints. A less critical view recognizes that since measurement providers have not cracked the code, advertisers should look elsewhere for solutions – ad tech, media companies, agencies and industry associations. And, a less critical view recognizing that measurement is complex, and it really does take a village to advance quality.

As there are certainly ad measurement advances, the industry is undermined by concerns over accuracy and transparency. Advertisers admit these concerns can impact where dollars go and how much is spent. Newer media (e.g., OTT, ATV, et al) may be most impacted by these advertiser concerns. Cross-screen and cross-platform measurement is also a significant pain point for advertisers and being able to attribute what drives success is simply not there yet.

So where do we go from here? More is needed from measurement companies – more innovation, more partnering with clients to experiment and more transparency. But the marketplace believes measurement companies are not alone in this – industry leaders like the MRC, CIMM, IAB et al have a role, as does ad tech and the sell-side to take two steps and more forward.