The path to mobile audience measurement

Gai Le Roy

Gai Le Roy is the director of research at IAB Australia, chairing the bureau’s Australia Measurement and Research Councils. She also leads the Mobile Advertising Council’s measurement and research projects. Gai has a wealth of experience in online media, digital strategy, insights, marketing and research, and was formerly GM of audience insights and research at Fairfax Media. She previously worked as insights manager at ninemsn for 10 years and was also VP of research and audience measurement at Nielsen Online.

A couple of weeks ago the IAB announced an industry research initiative in partnership with Nielsen to monitor mobile media usage by creating a panel of smartphone and tablet users.

The response to this announcement from the industry has been fabulous. It would not surprise anyone that the industry wants more information on consumer’s usage of mobile, but what did surprise us was the range of organisations interested in this data and their enthusiasm for the project.

Now I would be a wealthy woman if I had a bitcoin for every time someone said to me ‘but everything in digital is measurable’ or ‘just whack on some tags on sites and voila – measurement problem solved’. Sadly, measuring the behaviour of people at a market level is not that simple – in fact digital audience measurement is complicated.

So our approach to developing this new mobile measurement pilot has been led by an incredible group of media researchers who drive our IAB Australia Measurement Council. This group of 17 people, representing both publishers and agencies, sit through hours of technical meetings and discussions every month so the rest of the industry doesn’t have to. We owe them a vote of thanks.

This Council determined that our approach to mobile should be similar to our industry currency for desktop audience measurement – that is combining the best of analytics to give granular accurate volume information and layering on a high quality media panel to flesh out the “people” data. This last component is particularly important when combining digital audience data with other media channels.

Device data for tagged sites and mobile sites has been available in the Australian market since early 2013 through Nielsen’s Market Intelligence product. The latest data released in October showed 44 per cent of daily unique browsers accessing via a smartphone or tablet up from 34 per cent only six months ago.

The next two steps in the mobile audience measurement puzzle that IAB is tackling is getting volume information on apps through tagging, and most importantly, establishing a consumer panel of phone and tablet users across Australia.

Tagging for applications is currently happening with a myriad of publishers involved and we expect to see this data released as part of Market Intelligence in Q1, 2014.

The next step of developing a panel is a tough one. The fragmented nature of the mobile market in terms of devices and people’s behaviour makes running a panel an expensive and difficult task. However, it’s important so IAB Australia, along with a number of publishers and Nielsen have all invested to make it a reality.

The panel will track all mobile browsing and app usage of 1500 Australians to give the industry information on the broad behaviour of consumers based on actual data and not recall information that is currently used in lieu of other information. This market level data will be made available to the market in mid 2014 and will undoubtedly help the marketing industry efficiently use mobile as an advertising channel.

Our expectation is that the data from the panel will answer the questions that marketers are regularly asked – such as what categories are people using, how long are they on and (importantly) the difference between browsing and app usage. The pilot study will provide demographic information as well as audience data for larger reach sites and apps.

While this data will provide a much needed first step in getting an accurate picture of the mobile channel, our next challenge will be to integrate this information alongside other digital channel data and ultimately other media channels.

As I said – digital audience measurement is complicated – and it’s a journey rather than a destination. So we’re planning to send you postcards along the way keeping you updated on progress. Keep an eye out for the first of these in the New Year, when we’ll be extending an industry wide invite to attend a forum where we can all discuss the future of digital audience measurement and gather everyone’s views on what they need, what they’d like and where we should be working towards.

Tags: mobile advertising, mobile marketing, data-driven marketing

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