Cross-Platform Measurement Insights from the ARF’s Scott McDonald

By Charlene Weisler

Scott McDonald, CEO and President of the ARF, believes that cross-platform measurement still has a way to go before a standardize-able system is in place. Talking at the recent SXSW conference, he explained his view on cross-platform advertising trends. “There still is no consistent definition and tracking of cross-platform advertising that would allow us to say that it has grown by X percent since last year,” he stated. “When people talk about cross-platform, they really mean TV + Digital, though the media mix is often a lot more complex than that.”  But there is hope that, “advertisers have taken to heart the admonition that cross-platform campaigns need to be integrated with common themes, copy and images – but tailored to the specific context in which they are presented to consumers.”

Among some of the major challenges to rolling out cross-platform advertising, McDonald lists the following:

  1. Exposure measurement – specifically measurement of unduplicated audience reach for specific targets.
  2. Cross-device identity – many of the identifiers don’t cross the platforms, contributing to the persistent “walled garden” problem.
  3. Because of this, it is difficult to manage campaign frequency and to get accurate results in back-end attribution models.

But there has been some measurement progress, he averred, with the industry moving toward a possible duration-weighted exposure measurement standard, “that would bridge the gap between linear TV and digital video – though the debate about the next ‘currency’ will continue to be hotly contested.”  Another positive trend is the improvement in automated content recognition and watermarking technologies that enable cross-platform measurement.

When it comes to 1-1 marketing, McDonald stated that, “It only works when there is a high level of REAL permission by the consumer because it requires so much personal information that it is prone to abuse.” And while we talk about efficiencies, there is still some value in some of the inefficiencies, by “letting people who are not current prospects know about your brand and build a favorable impression of it for later reference and action.”

Ultimately, for McDonald, there is no competition between the need for transparency for advertisers versus privacy for consumers. “Consumers need privacy and advertisers need to be transparent about what data they collect, what they do with it and how that benefits the consumer,” he concluded. 

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