6. Media currencies: advertisers will pay-per-what?
Joint efforts by DPAA and Nielsen Media have brought a semblance of uniformity for some larger networks comparing them to television audiences via Nielsen’s Fourth Screen Audience Report. Although this is probably better than nothing and may be a step in the right direction, I would like to point out that mere comparison to TV – without the addition of more meaningful metrics – would be a disservice to digital signage/DOOH media. Digital signage has very little to do with television, other than that its screens look like TV screens. On the other hand, this new medium can offer much higher ROI and richer campaign feedback than television, to which it is now being compared.
Viewer impressions, recall, retention and CPM are the main currencies for TV, but they constitute only an initial set of metrics for DOOH. It doesn’t add to the current system’s credibility that, after decades of its existence, the definition of an impression (aka ‘opportunity to see’, exposure, ad display, ad view) remains vague and confusing.
In other words, the multi-billion-dollar TV ad spending is still hinging on a measurement unit that is hard to define clearly. There are indications that both TV advertisers and networks are dissatisfied with the current state of affairs in audience measurement, and media research companies are promising a major overhaul. Until then, why should the new and potentially more measurable medium be evaluated using a methodology that even its primary users find outdated? An old-school advertiser may buy by CPM the first time, but to sell a repeat campaign network operators will need at least some kind of proof-of-performance.
Internet advertising has evolved way beyond that. Anyone using Google AdWords knows that its advertisers are not even charged for web page impressions, those come for free, because they are almost irrelevant. What makes PPC advertising so effective and wide-spread is the fact that marketers only pay per action (cost-per-click-through) or per transaction (where e-commerce is enabled). This has become the new standard of ROI accountability for new media and it should fully apply to digital signage, as well as to any other ‘digital media’. Until that happens, DOOH ad dollars will remain a trickle.