Saturday, October 14, 2006

Advertising numbers will do for advertising

Investor Business Daily is watching the old advertisers try to put their imprint on New Media.

ComScore Media Metrix says Google's share was 44%. Nielsen/NetRatings pegs it at 50%. Hitwise gives it 60%.

With 6.5 billion total U.S. searches in August, that's a difference of 1 billion Google searches between the lowest and highest share ratings.

Which is most accurate? No one can say for sure.

"This is why we are screaming bloody murder for all of these sites to be audited and certified," said Greg Stuart, chief executive of the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

Every major Web site publisher and rating agency is under the gun to be audited and certified by an independent firm as it increasingly becomes more important for advertisers and others to know just how many people are visiting a site, viewing a page and clicking on an ad.

To hammer home that importance, eight big advertisers signed a document in August saying the fees they pay for Web ads will be calculated based only on audited, certified numbers, starting in mid-2007.

As usual they are bleating for all the wrong reasons.

The Internet, as an advertising medium, has joined the big leagues alongside TV, print and radio. In the first six months of this year, advertisers spent $7.9 billion on U.S. Web ads, up 37% from the year-earlier period, says the IAB. Uncertainty about how many people are viewing a Web site, page or ad worries advertisers.

Of course its does. They want eyeballs because they think eyeballs on pages makes people see the adverts. How good is this as a metric?

When people can choose not to see advertising, they choose not to. So much for advertising.

People do participate in advertising if its is good enough but as participants.

In the UK, there is a huge issue for the publishers over what to measure and how.

To placate BMW, Colgate-Palmolive, Ford, Hewlett-Packard, ING, Kimberly-Clark, PepsiCo and Visa someone will come up with a number (almost any number will do -for all the good it will be). It will be useless. It will confirm doubts about marketing as a profession.

All it will tell these enormous online advertisers is how to generate more distrust, distaste, hell, frustration and distance between their brands and their consumers.

This is an issue for PR. It will be the Public Relations professionals that will have to pick up the pieces.