Microsoft is partnering with comScore to test a service that could allow brand advertisers to measure and track the effectiveness of their online campaigns much the way they've been doing for decades with TV, print and other traditional media.
If it functions as planned, the new Reach and Frequency Planner (RF Planner), will give brand advertisers the confidence to invest more money in Internet advertising, said Young-Bean Song, senior director of Microsoft's Atlas Institute. The service will combine Microsoft's ad-serving information with demographic data provided by comScore's large panel of Web users.
The RF Planner will be the latest in a number of attempts to provide Web ad performance metrics to brand marketers in the context of traditional ad planning methods. Another was announced earlier this year by media agency Mindshare and video ad network YuMe. The companies introduced a new measurement, dubbed iGRP (Internet gross rating point), that provides information about the reach and frequency of an online video ad, substituting unique views for household views.
In discussing the Microsoft/comScore project, Song pointed out that although the world's biggest advertisers are brands they spend only about 5 percent of their budgets on Internet ads. "The challenge is that, although we've done a wonderful job for direct-response advertising to specifically elicit a sales response, we haven't done a good job for brand advertisers," he said. "As wonderful as ROI accountability is on the Web, measuring clicks and the resulting sales, we've kind of forgotten about the brand advertisers, the ones with the bigger budgets. We haven't made good case for them to spend their media dollars on the Web."
RF Planner, being tested now in a "closed beta" with some major brands whose names are being kept secret, is designed to create a series of digital media plans that provide forecasts for reach, frequency and GRPs at the ad-placement level. The goal is to give brand advertisers sufficient information so they can determine if impressions from one group of ad placements will be more valuable than those on another for reaching specific audiences.
"Current online reach and frequency metrics are typically computed at site level," said comScore Chairman Gian Fulgoni in a statement. He said measuring reach and frequency at the ad placement level is better because it shows the achievable reach of the campaign as well as the "true potential frequency" and accurate demographics of the audience.
Song said the results of the trial should be available by the end of the year.
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