Traditional media has been measured for years by independent, accredited companies. Newspaper circulation is published by the newspaper industry and sent to a third party for verification (typically, home circulation and newsstand sales). Those statistics are verified and accredited by Audit Bureau of Circulation, also known as ABC. Radio and television listening and viewership is measured by Nielsen, and those statistics are accredited by the Media Rating Council, also known as MRC. Both ABC and MRC are independent firms that have earned accreditation that many others have not.
Those same third-party accreditations are the Achilles heal of the Web-based digital advertising platforms. You can find measurement by multiple companies measuring online advertising, but few have accreditation.
Meanwhile, if you look at the growth of online advertising spending projected for the future, maybe the advertising world is getting the cart before the horse. After all, if you can’t factually measure your expenditure, how can you really expect to verify its effectiveness? Without proper accreditation, isn’t the answer rather obvious?
It’s pretty simple for advertisers to verify the reliability of the audience size media sellers are boasting about. Simply ask, “Can you verify that your audience statistics are accredited by MRC?”
The little-known New York-based operation MRC is a nonprofit founded in the 1960s. “People don’t even know we exist,” said George Ivie, MRC’s chief executive. MRC is the lone organization setting the rules for how media consumption is tracked. As a result, MRC is in the position to influence the flow of billions of ad dollars in television, radio and online in the coming years.
Some have said we are a nation of sheep with a herd mentality, so we just blindly follow along. Others are more apt to “trust but verify.”
Where do you line up?
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