POV: Can WAM become the ultimate currency for online measurement?

By Kapil Ohri , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Digital | November 25, 2010
In a scenario where third-party measurement systems like comScore and Vizisense already exist, will IMRB's Web Audience Measurement (WAM) system become the universal currency in online media measurement?

IMRB International and Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) has partnered to launch a panel-based online audience measurement system called Web Audience Measurement (WAM). IMRB will install a software (.exe file) -- on the computer of the panelist -- which will capture the internet usage of the panelist on all internet browsers (like Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer and Google Chrome) and Instant Messengers as well. The panel will consist of 6000 internet users. afaqs! spoke with few industry experts to find out whether WAM can become the ultimate currency in online media measurement or not.

Sandeep Amar, head, marketing, audience and pre-sale, Indiatimes.com

No audience measurement can become the ultimate currency in internet, with search or performance (primarily Google) having a 50 per cent market share.

This spend is based on a bidding model and keywords, which is not based on audience measurement. The rest of the ad spend gets routed to ad networks or inventory exchanges. The market for ad networks is based on cost-per click (CPC) purchase and long tail coverage, which also does not use audience measurement.

Even advertising on social networks like Facebook is CPC-based and the requirement for audience measurement is not much. Audience measurement is useful for bigger and premium publishers - who are rooted in display advertising - to establish audiences.

Mahadevan Jayram, VP, BD & Alliances, Consim Info

An honest answer right now would be to wait and watch.

However, there is one reason why WAM has a good chance of succeeding. Web Rating Points (WRP) will bring parity and some sort of standardisation enabling many offline planners to start using the internet as an additional and possibly comparable medium. In the event of this happening, the entire online advertising industry stands to benefit with higher revenue opportunities.

Having said this, it is not going to be an easy task as Neilsen is already snapping at IMRB's heels with its own audience measurement offering and like Vizisense they are taking the tagging route to get there. IMRB's approach is questionable as it leaves out a large part of the India's internet access that happens through the work-place.

Rammohan Sundaram, founder CEO & MD, NetworkPlay Media

Third party data audience measurement is always more meaningful. It facilitates marketers to take informed decisions.

Digital advertising has not grown to the level that we would have liked it to because marketers don't have enough data points to evaluate the media. Though comScore and Vizisense are being used to measure the audience on the web, none of these are the standards that the industry uses.

Agencies and publishers use estimates that are convenient to them. There is no logic as to why 'X' publisher with more than 60 per cent reach should have only 10 per cent of spends.

For WAM to succeed, it needs to be recognised by the industry bodies and have consensus on the sampling and measurement techniques.

Suyesh Shankar, digital strategy director, Starcom MediaVest

Online audience measurement is used differently by different entities in the world of digital. While planners look at granular details to justify their media plans, marketing teams look at overall trends to find cues in consumer behaviour.

Given that IMRB's WAM relies on a program download and subsequent empanelment, it might provide a good perspective on the demographic makeup of site visitors but loses out on other parameters which plague every panel-based measurement tool.

Another fundamental issue I have with WAM is that, conceptually, it is based on the principles of television audience measurement which is not a good idea given the diametrically opposite nature of the two mediums.

Other tools such as comScore have taken note of these shortcomings and have made significant additions to their measurement techniques by using a hybrid model (panel and site data) to add depth to the data being reported.

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