Media measurement needs "a governing authority" to address shortcomings that have dogged the industry for decades, and getting one has become a top priority of the Association of National Advertisers, the group's CEO Bob Liodice said at the opening of its Advertising Financial Management Conference in Naples, Fla., on Monday.
"We do not have a very good handle on the performance of our media measurements," Mr. Liodice said, in an unusually pointed address opening the session. But even in the best case it could take a year or two to establish a governing authority and how much power it would have, he said in an interview later.
What Mr. Liodice termed "the Measurement Mandate" will be on the agenda of an upcoming joint meeting of the ANA, American Association of Advertising Agencies, Interactive Advertising Bureau, Media Rating Council and Advertising Research Foundation.
The effort is an outgrowth of the Making Measurement Make Sense (3MS) initiative in the past three years, which involved those same groups and recently led to adoption of a standard for measuring whether online banner ads are viewed (at least 50% of pixels for at least one second). A similar standard for video advertising set to emerge in June.
While Mr. Liodice said he's pleased with that progress -- and that the industry associations were able to collectively muster the $5 million to make it happen -- it's clearly not enough, "which is the reason we can't do cross-platform analytics" and have questions about the quality of marketing-mix modeling.
"That digital, which we thought was going to be the most-measurable medium, is so far off the track, it says a lot," he said. TV is probably the most measurable medium, he said, despite lingering problems with it.
While measurement has many stakeholders, he said marketers have to take the lead. "This is not to sound arrogant," he said, "but we're spending the money. And we need to make sure we have a reliable and capable set of metrics."
The MRC, which accredits audience measurement systems used as currency in deals between marketers and media companies, handles some of what Mr. Liodice envisions in a governing authority. He expects the ARF to also play a role.
One issue: Better measurement costs more, and marketers aren't always willing to pay. When the Council for Research Excellence last year looked into problems with marketing-mix models used by many companies to track return on investment most of the recommendations involved using higher-quality measurements as inputs, all of which already exist but often aren't used by marketers because they cost more.
So are marketers the root of the problem? "There may be some of that," Mr. Liodice said. But he said when marketers see the potential savings just from the new viewability standards developed by 3MS, they may be swayed to spend more.
"We have to be willing to invest millions to generate billions," Mr. Liodice said. "We're not used to thinking like that."