I have to admit that when I first read Andy Atherton's headline, Is It Time to Forget Measurement? - Advertising Age - DigitalNext. I was ready to crown him this month's "Measurement Menace."
But by the time I finished the post, I realized we were in violent agreement, just approaching things from a different perspective. Andy, it is NOT time to forget measuremenet, but it is time to put away those childish measures of counting eyeballs and impressions and ad value equivalency (AVE) for those of us in PR.
Traditional media measures have been in place since Nielsen was an individual not a conglomerate, back when people were trying to figure out how to evaluate the effectiveness of spending money on black and white TV programs. After a decade or two of measuring "eyeballs" or "ratings" or whatever you want to call them, folks like Procter & Gamble realized that they could predict, with some accuracy how many cases of shampoo they would sell if they knew they were reaching a certain number of eyeballs.
The problem with today's media measurement is three-fold. First of all, no one has a decade worth of research to tell us how many you tube dowloads it takes to sell a case of shampoo because You Tube hasnt' been around for a decade, as you so rightly point out.
Secondly, the measures that have been used like Hits (How Idiots Track Success) have been widely discredited because of spiders and bots and the little 35 million impression discrepancy between Nielsen and Comscore in their audience numbers.
Thirdly new tools like Google Analytics and Omniture are making real metrics available to the masses. Rather than count eyeballs, you can now count purchases and engagement --- whichi is a much more valuable metric than the vague and elusive on-line eyeball. What's most interesting about the new tools is that they are pointing out the fundamental fallacy of all tradtional metrics is that they have assumed that all sales come from advertising, with no attribution for public relations, word of mouth or any of the other less visibile means of promotion.
Tools like Tealium actually point out what social and traditional sites a person goes to prior to taking an action. And I'm guessing that the results will show that there's alot more influence from social media than most marketers are assuming.
So no, Andy, we still need to be accountable. Now more than ever, we need accurate measures of what is working or not working, so we can better allocate our slimmer budgets. What we should forget are the old flawed ways of measuring success.