Measuring brand reach requires Web metrics

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One of the biggest concerns for today's print media owners is the decline of advertising spending. The effect has caused a shrinking of circulations for many publications. While many believe there will always be a need for trade magazines, the fact remains there are fewer launches, with most titles moving toward a Web-based product. In today's ultra-competitive marketplace, the advertising buyer is presented with more media choices within smaller and tighter budgets.

So what can today's media owners do in their attempt to convey the full reach of their brands to potential advertisers? Clearly, measuring circulation simply is not enough. Instead, media owners must shift focus to support measuring total brand reach across all distribution platforms.

But that's easier said than done — specifically in the interactive arena, where the waters have been muddied with confusing metrics for far too long. While the medium has continued to evolve, Web metrics have failed to keep pace. At some point along the way, the market became comfortable and complacent, and began accepting Web traffic measurement from Web sites that set their own measurement parameters. That is like the students setting the questions on a test.

As a result, the buyer is left with non-comparative data across brands, detracting from the credibility of the Web as the most measured form of media. This trend needs to stop.

To survive and grow, today's media owners must shift away from single-channel measurement and toward total brand metrics. Clearly, a number of Web analytics and measurement tools are available to Web sites. There must be a level playing field with a single set of standards — provided on a constant and consistent basis and performed via one audited analytics tool — that advertisers and media buyers can trust as accurate to identify sites worthy of ad spend. One standard Web measuring system across the industry eliminates guesswork on why data is different among sites.

Last month, BPA Worldwide stepped up to provide this needed service through an arrangement with Nielsen Online. The tag-enabled tool will deliver the independent, third-party Web traffic measurement — with a single set of industry standards — that the industry has desperately needed.

Media owners, buyers and advertisers will have unlimited access to near-real time Web site traffic information, including page impressions, unique browsers, users' sessions, unique browser frequency, user session duration, and page duration. In addition, collecting qualitative survey data from site users will yield more robust measurement in providing demographics by site and market sector. Buyers will then know the quality of the user and the user's habits, instead of whether he or she receives the magazine.

Glenn Schutz is manager of communications for BPA Worldwide. Reach him at gschutz@bpaww.com.

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