09/06/2013 02:57 pm ET Updated Sep 10, 2013

Changing the Way We Do Business: The Multi-Screen Measurement Imperative


Figuring out how different forms of media interact with one another has to be our industry's top priority. Companies are embracing the real world way their customers shop, and have done an excellent job of providing robust purchasing experiences to suit every desired shopping platform - brick and mortar, e-commerce, call centers, mail order, mobile, social, and more.

And as consumers go through their chosen path to purchase, there are even more places and formats they can discover to interact with brand messaging. Within digital media, the explosion of advertising technology has allowed marketers to target audiences with increased sophistication, while measuring all sorts of brand interactions before a sale. After the sale, they're able to learn all about them; yet it's been six years since the launch of the iPhone, and three years after launch of tablets, and we're sorely lacking in understanding how messages on multiple platforms influence each other.

Nielsen recently shared some data showing that approximately 70% of video content consumption still occurs on traditional TV (about 75% when you include time-shifted TV). Independently, AOL recently completed research with a group of early adopter tablet owners on its Engadget site (these people are significantly more likely to have had a tablet longer, so their content consumption habits are more internalized and representative of greater things to come). 89% said that tablets are the perfect complement to TV, and 63% said they were the perfect replacement - but more importantly 94% of those surveyed used their tablets during TV commercials.

The good news for marketers is that 39% used their tablets to research products they saw in a TV spot, and 65% are researching stuff they might buy. Almost 90% of them are checking their email, with nearly 80% checking out their social networks. Advertising across only one channel (obviously) makes no sense. The real question is how these different exposures impact each other - and how to measure their effect on each other.

To do this right, we need strong leadership and cooperation from the industry councils, and the ability to take the relationship between marketers, measurement/research companies, and media companies to the next level. We need to quickly establish standards for a true cross-platform measurement taxonomy based on the best way to do things - not the way that a company or media platform has traditionally done them (i.e. CPM vs. GRP). And when the best way doesn't exist, we need to work together to get the information necessary to create it.

Many groups are independently trying to solve this problem (Nielsen and comScore chief among them), but their approaches are, by necessity, built on a platform of what they've already done before - not necessarily what is right. We haven't seen a challenge like this before, and it needs to be given proper attention, one that something this different demands. If all sides of the equation put pressure on our respective industry groups, this is a challenge we'll be able to overcome that truly changes the way we do business.