Is Measurement Depriving Brands Of Their Audience? 

Paul Lyonette, YuMe, UK country manager, asks why advertising spend is lagging consumer usage when it comes to online video.  

Multiscreen is big news. Wherever you look, consumers are immersed in smartphone and tablet content, which has created an engaged and attentive audience that is ripe for online advertising. 

So why is it that advertiser uptake of these emerging platforms is lagging far behind user adoption? The simple answer is measurement. And it’s costing brands access to their audience.  

User adoption of new media such as smartphones and tablets has been exceptional. Latest figures from Ofcom demonstrate that 62% of all UK adults now use a smartphone and 30% are using tablets, so it makes sense for advertisers – who have traditionally been considered trendsetters, trailblazers, and leaders in cutting edge innovation – to embrace the opportunities that these rapidly emerging digital platforms provide. 

However, the reverse is true and the ad industry has been uncharacteristically reluctant to make the move to multiscreen. 

According to latest figures from the UK IAB, ad spend on mobile and tablet increased in 2013, with mobile ad spend accounting for £1.03bn (16%) of the total £6.3bn spend, and tablet-dedicated advertising lagging further behind at just £34.4m (6%). Moreover, £4.9bn (78%) was spent on online display across desktops and laptops. 

However, considering that of the average 3hr 7mins that UK adults spent online daily in 2013, 62% of that time (1hr 19mins) was spent on mobile and 22% (28mins) was spent on tablet – multi-screen ad spend has some catching up to do.

So what is putting advertisers off making the switch from traditional channels to multiscreen campaigns? 

Marketing departments are working to ever-tighter budgets and under continual pressure to demonstrate ROI – which makes measurement the driving force behind the allocation of marketing budgets to different channels, devices or ad formats. 

Therefore, any campaign that cannot be accurately measured will often appear to be too much of a risk. 

This dependence of measurement at the expense of creativity and innovation can stifle a brand’s success, especially since metrics have not yet caught up with the rapid expansion of new and emerging platforms.

One such metric that causes considerable debate is view-time. Television typically encourages longer view-times from consumers and still enjoys the lion’s share of ad spend. 

This is understandable, but in a fast-growing technological age it is time for advertisers to explore other options and tap into the expansive opportunity presented by the growing use of multiple devices. 

Certainly our own research on the subject indicates that entertaining content encourages users to spend more time on tablets above any other device.

Consumers, in contrast, have already effortlessly made the switch to multi-screen. While they may still be watching TV, there’s a good chance that it is a connected TV streaming their choice of content, or that they are also using a tablet or smartphone as they sit in front of the big screen. 

The great news for brands looking to take that leap of faith into multi-screen advertising is that it provides the Holy Grail all advertisers are looking for; a highly-targeted audience in an uncluttered advertising space. Add to that the immersive nature of tablets and the interactive features of emerging digital platforms, and the possibilities for advertisers are endless. 

The brands that have already moved to multi-screen are reaping the rewards of higher consumer engagement and share of voice, with low levels of competition – even if they aren’t able to precisely measure ad performance. 

Of course being the first to jump can present the risk of being the first to fall, which is possibly what is holding advertisers back, although it is important to remember that even failure can be seen as an opportunity to learn. 

While it is easy to understand that brands who are investing millions in marketing want to see measurable proof that their campaigns are working – and that advertisers want to cling to the familiarity and safety of TV-scale metrics – this leaves them likely to get left behind by those who have the courage to trust emerging media and engage consumers across all platforms. 

Ultimately, even if a brand’s first steps towards multiscreen are tentative ones, it will still place them well ahead of their competitors on the digital learning curve, arming them with experience and knowledge to generate ROI across screens in future campaigns. 

The future looks bright, with ad tech companies continually working to crack the measurement code for mobile devices and connected TVs. 

Investment in technology programmes and software that will advance the measurement of emerging platforms is huge and, if advertisers can see past the current restrictions of measurement, they stand to access their audience wherever they are rather than marketing in silos of device or channel. 

Brands need to move quickly to make the most of this highly-engaged and attentive audience in the relatively uncluttered space of emerging media, and those that jump first will unquestionably realise the biggest benefits.