I want my metrics, and I want them now!

Media companies live and breathe — in large part — through the benevolence of the agencies that control vast resources of ad dollars for their clients. This relationship is a part of what’s being disrupted by Media 2.0, and it’s one of the most interesting elements of the overall disruption.

A little review first. This blog examines media disruption as the fruit of the cultural shift from modernism (I think and reason, therefore I understand) to postmodernism (I participate, therefore I understand). Changes in culture aren’t zero sum games, unless there’s a bayonet forcing the issue. In the West, it’s more like evolution; that which was remains, albeit with new adoptive characteristics.

So it comes as no surprise to read the following headline from a Research Brief from the Center for Media Research:

Measurement Seen As Hurdle to Ad Spend On Emerging Media

Well, duh! The hegemony that controls mass marketing is dependent upon complex measurement systems. Once established and agreed upon by all parties, success is defined in terms of who can outsmart, outspend, manipulate or otherwise manage the systems to their advantage. Take away the system, and the hegemony demands another.

But this is the modernist way. We establish laws and rules, which are then manipulated for us to get what we want. And by “we,” I’m talking about those who are in a position to do something about it. The rest of the culture can only sit by and be used. This is the essential flaw in a cultural system based solely on the rule of law. It may produce order, but that order can be manipulated by those in a position to do so.

This is the same dynamic at work in our courts, where “the system” has created its own laws through the process of judicial activism found in “case law.” Case law is the process by which one court’s ruling is used in other court rulings to modify laws created by the law makers of the culture, our legislators. The problem, of course, is that case law is viewed as THE law, so judges don’t judge at all; they merely interpret. When justice is the only permitted outcome, mercy goes out the door. This whole justice/mercy thing is why we need judges in the first place, but that’s not what we have today.

And so it is with media and advertising. We all sit back and say, “Show me the rules,” parenthetically adding, “so I can plan how to manipulate them to get what I want.” Here’s the key part of the above-referenced article:

The gap in the knowledge base of most advertisers with regard to new/emerging media, says the report, exists not only because of the wide variety of options, but also because of the constantly changing dynamic nature of the space. Given the amount of change, metrics do not generate the same level of confidence as in traditional media.

70% of the larger advertisers, those spending $50MM and up on media, were more comfortable with current vehicles. These respondents reported satisfaction with the measurement of traditional media, while their level of satisfaction was 60% for measuring new/emerging media.

So Madison Avenue won’t be comfortable playing with the Web until there is a locked-down mechanism in place for continuing the same old system they’ve always had. While I can understand and sympathize with them, there’s a big problem with that thinking.

Its name is Google, that clever group of folks who don’t pay a lick of attention to Madison Avenue and have chosen, instead, to push forward along other lines. That’s not to say that Google wouldn’t take their money, but the truth is they don’t need it. This is because the company shakes hands with the Web in a way that works in the best interests of everybody, not just the ad agencies in New York who controlled all the cash in the old world. As the Web grows, so does Google. The company has their measurement metrics, but they’re based on the Web as the platform, and this doesn’t mesh with the way Madison Avenue does business, for the hegemony requires platforms who play by its rules.

So the old value proposition is in decay, and the best it can do is fold its arms, stomp its foot and demand that this thing called the Web give it what it wants. It won’t. It doesn’t have to. And Madison Avenue is, well, screwed.


  1. perhaps you’ve had a moment to read my question (and the fine fellow kevin a.‘s answer) over at ib’s revamped site? look under the “new” tab and scroll down.

    those numbers don’t make any sense.… exactly the sort of confusion that keep the staus quo such.

    thanks for the timely post!

  2. Happy Thanksgiving!

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