Shweta Mulki

Measuring Digital in India: What Do We Need?

With the online and mobile world exploding and expanding all around us, we look at what goes into measuring the 'new digital'.

With India's acute media fragmentation, brands are always trying to reach audiences at scale in a short span of time. Digital is being seen as something that could address this need, but, the advertising spends on this medium, though growing, are nowhere close to traditional media. Some industry voices attribute this to lack of standardised currency. Soon, we will see homegrown digital measurement services - by BARC and ABC, being launched. With this view, we ask media planners (and brands) about what they would want to see in the new-age common currency going forward.

Mallikarjun Das, group CEO, Starcom India

Measuring Digital in India: What Do We Need?
In India, digital is still competing heavily with television, which is still growing strong as a medium, unlike saturated global markets where TV has maximised its reach. In India, rural is still getting televisionised. At the urban level too, cost of data is still substantial. If digital growth has to be accelerated, the need for a common currency becomes critical. If you want categories that look at mediums, not only for their performance aspect but also for their ability to build brands - which is what categories like FMCG look at, you need to have currency, which is essentially cross-screen. And we need to retain simplicity of measurement.

Now, we cannot change the playing field much as far as brand measurement is concerned, so we need to figure out ways to have a comparison that is analogous - where digital builds incremental reach, and becomes a natural part of the media plan. Advertisers have a mental model of how various media work - for instance FMCG marketers; spends on outdoor media are due to a lot of experiential learning codified into norms over a period of time. Maybe the model for branding in digital is still forming, but the advantage here is that it's one of the most measured media, and there is data. Within that, aspects like 'exposure', 'viewability', etc., there we need to have clarity and synchronicity with television and other media. Currently, one relies on what publishers or vendors say, and third party data in mediums like mobile is not robust enough and there's not enough scale.

Global advertisers may have their monies for digital set aside, but local clients are now asking tougher ROI and reach-based questions. The medium needs to justify itself in a business-as-usual scenario, where it needs to move on from 'experimention' and have 'sufficiency' (how much is enough for my plan to be salient) that is seen in other media. And all this needs to be in provided in accurate reasonable data, not 'sale-sy' data.

Vinod Thadani, chief digital officer, Mindshare

Measuring Digital in India: What Do We Need?
While in traditional media you had measurement systems in place to qualify data, but in digital, till recently we used to depend on two models. One was publisher data - where the publisher would serve the ads themselves, and give us the reports which was shared with clients along with third party data if required. The other method was to use third party ad serving which came at a slightly extra cost but what it did was it gave you a much better picture of the campaign/impressions served per site in the media plan.

Clients have been comfortable with parameters like CTRs, VTRs, shareability, engagement and on-the-go, but now it's not about 'why digital' but about 'what in digital', and how to innovate more, get first mover advantage and overall bigger impact.

In the current scenario, there is some ambiguity now with recent tools like viewability (eg. how much pixels seen in how much time), in-target reach, brand safety, 'no bots' - not many publishers are open to these norms now but there's a slow evolution, and we have been taking these global methods to clients & educating them that these are evolving & going to be the norms in the future.

Currently, we have services by Nielsen, Google and Moat which we deploy wherever applicable. In digital, one needs to understand granularity, and it's complex as you have web, iPad, mobile, in-app etc, and you have different operating systems too. A unified system needs to integrate the basics seen in the current third party services. Sharper targeting is surely possible, but we should be careful to not misuse that.

Parvesh Debuka, head - marketing, Paperboat

Measuring Digital in India: What Do We Need?
Measuring Digital in India: What Do We Need?
Consumers are always at the centre of any brand communication, so it is really important to know who your message is going out to in as much detail as possible. I would put that right up there and expect granularity and accuracy of data shared. For instance, the more I find out about what makes consumer set 1 engage with my Y content piece and what makes consumer set 2 engage with my Z content piece, I can make it more meaningful for the consumers so there is genuine value for them while they give us their time. For brick-and-mortar brands like ours especially, we need to know how our digital is driving our sales offline.

Nitin Gupta, managing director and CEO, Asymmetrique

For decades TRPs and GRPs have provided a feeling of comfort to brand and media planners in allocating a disproportionate percentage of spend towards TV. The only web/mobile/app metric which could potentially counter and tip the spending scales towards digital, is 'real views'. The measurement system for views traditionally has been impressions, but that needs to change since digital demands more tangibility as a medium.

Going forward, 'real views' will have to be measured in terms of associated content consumption metrics captured across all targeted platforms and digital ad formats, and reported in cumulative terms (where ads are being displayed). For instance, as you have platform (metric) portals or websites (live traffic), social platforms (daily logins), content platforms (daily readership) and in-app (daily opens) - the sum of these parts will allow advertisers to have a single comparable digital reach metric called 'real views', just like TV. Planners/buyers will then be able to compare this versus TRPs, and rationalise suggesting this currency to stakeholders.

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