One of the wonders of our digital world is the ability to measure anything.  The challenge remains in making sure that the appropriate indicators are being measured and that the data is correctly interpreted.

The opportunities and challenges of audience measurement were discussed at the most recent iLunch – The Face of Demand presented by Interactive Ontario.

The conversation evolved into a best practices guide for offline and online audience measurement and cross-platform conversion between traditional and digital media.

Paul Bernier of Advisio spoke about Google Analytics and other traditional web measurement tools. He emphasized that despite the overabundance of data it is important to distinguish which metrics are relevant for a particular site.

Here are four questions that organizations involved in a digital media campaign should ask:

1.       How do your metrics align with your business model?

Corporate engagement with social media will result in increased reliance on traffic source metrics that determine where website visitors are entering your site.  On the other hand investment in AdWords will affect the reliance on organic search metrics.  The list of metrics should be kept to a minimum but contain indicators that determine the ability of the website to generate value.

As digital media becomes more sophisticated, quantitative data becomes less reliable when examined in isolation without qualitative measurements.  Bryan Segal, VP at ComScore spoke about the benefits of combining web analytics with the traditional research panel approach. ComScore does this by monitoring a sample of internet users whose household statistics are taken into account when reporting on their online activity, revealing unique visitor information and psychographic preferences. Given these metrics, your online content can be further evaluated as to its relevance for your target audience.

2.       Is there enough stickiness in your website to keep people coming back?

Today’s fragmented and inattentive audience is difficult to capture.  Traditional media metrics like reach, frequency and GRP are as important as they have always been for print and TV measurement but for online measurement click-through rates are no longer relevant because they don’t reveal the full picture of audience engagement.

Social media has changed content consumption patterns. Albert Lai, co-founder of the Facebook-funded Kontagent spoke about the evolution of metrics that are available through social web.  Social web has transformed audience metrics from an exercise in measurement to one of engineering audience growth.

3.       How is your on-line audience growing?

Content is less dependent on directory listings like Google because consumption has itself become viral through a never-ending series of links, bookmarks and tags that post static online content through social web.  In order to grow your audience, content should not only be engineered in a way that makes it easy to share but also in a way that entices your online audience to share it with their peers. This type of a viral loop is best demonstrated in the very popular social media game FarmVille, which gives players points for sharing. As in the case of social gaming people consume media content differently depending on its format.

4.       How can you measure cross-screen conversion rates?

Most traditional media companies are focusing their attention on digital strategies like web, social and mobile. But introducing digital media in the mix presents with it not only the challenge of seamless integration but the additional challenge of measuring cross-platform conversion. Speaking on this topic was McLean Greaves, VP of Interactive Content at ZoomerMedia.  Zoomer includes print publication, online and social media properties, and is in the process of adding television and mobile channels to their media mix.  According to the panel, the average size of the TV viewers who continue their media consumption to the corresponding website, is only 1-3 per cent of the total audience.  Not only are these numbers low, they also do not measure direct conversion which means that on-line visitors could have come from other sources like social media or out-of-home advertising.

Cross-platform measurement is complicated by the growing number of media channels used by many brands, however bringing mobile into the mix is a game changing opportunity.  Mobile puts an instantaneous audience measurement tool in the hands of the viewer that allows brands to track user behavior, traffic and conversion. For example, a mobile call to action in a print publication, such as SMS shortcode, can be used to direct the reader to the corresponding website directly on their mobile phone, using mobile web or a WAP connection.  A similar call to action can be integrated in to television or out of home media.

Mobile is the hidden key for most businesses trying to measure cross-platform conversion and create a much more permanent engagement with their audience.

Taia is the Community and Brand Development Manager at Broadplay Inc., a full service mobile agency based in Toronto. Follow Broadplay on twitter @ http://twitter.com/broadplaymobile

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