Online Advertising Might Benefit From Better Data

    December 17, 2007

Suppose you’re promised one reward, and then often given two. Or promised two rewards, and sometimes given one. Studies have found that both humans and monkeys prefer the first scenario, but in the world of online advertising, execs expect to know exactly what’s going on.

Take statistics from Hitwise, comScore, Compete, and Nielsen//NetRatings as an example. Their reports don’t always cover the same ground, but when they do, the results are often quite different. Just recently, they created a question of whether Microsoft had lost or gained market share in a certain month.

So, again, this uncertainty isn’t really suited to the modern business world, and may, in fact, be causing a lot of onlookers to stay on the sidelines. Steve Wadsworth, president of The Walt Disney Company’s Internet group, told Seth Sutel, "We need measurement of the audience and their use of the system that’s clear, simple and actionable for a marketer. You need comparability with other media."

If that comparability is achieved, online advertising might go way up. It should go further up (or less far down), anyway, than it would have in the current economy without solid measurements.

The AP puts this year’s Web ad spending at $20 billion, by the way, up 25 percent from the previous period.