The marketing industry is heading for a digital train crash
The marketing industry is heading for a digital train crash
A view from Jim Freeman

Collaborate or die: the industry is hurtling towards a digital crash

In a fast-moving, highly exciting medium how is it that there is no consensus of how to measure anything digitally? asks Jim Freeman, group sales and trading director at Telegraph Media Group.

A good example is viewability which is a huge issue in digital that needs to be understood and dealt with - there are at least nine companies claiming to have the answer, all giving very different results

The digital advertising journey began more than a decade ago and in many ways the final destination is as unclear as when that particular shiny new media train left the station.

There are facts we do know: consumers of all ages have tapped into new technology with enormous enthusiasm; the media news business has become a 24 hour operation; for the most part consumption takes place in conjunction with traditional media, increasing the opportunities for advertisers. Yes, Destination Digital has delivered an entirely new high speed advertising vehicle.

24 hours a day, 365 days a week

Customer engagement 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year is a reality. We have the ability to target users' behavioural or actual needs. Surely this is a marketers dream? And yet doubts surrounding the digital advertising world have provoked an industry-wide version of Question Time. Scratch beneath the surface and you find accusations of fraud, extortion and a host of hidden problems not seen before in any form of media.

Digital is a fantastic medium and can, if used wisely, do everything the hype claims. Unfortunately the massive positives are being undermined by a complete lack of consensus and policing and creates an environment shrouded with uncertainty.

Lack of transparency

The lack of real transparency on audience data and analysis has created a breeding ground for a multitude of research start-ups all claiming to be better than the rest. The result is muddy waters and a lack of trust.

This important issue is, like many things digital, being undermined by uncertainty

In a fast-moving, highly exciting medium how is it that there is no consensus of how to measure anything digitally?

A good example is viewability which is a huge issue in digital that needs to be understood and dealt with. There are at least nine companies claiming to have the answer, all giving very different results.

This important issue is, like many things digital, being undermined by uncertainty. Some companies are imposing their solutions into the trading metric already, in some cases without neither the buyer or seller being made aware and without any proper debate and joined-up consensus on how to actually measure what is viewable.

The duty of the industry

As an industry it is our duty to provide them with a measurement that can be trusted and that all agree is correct.

This consensus does not exist currently, and it seems the trade bodies have no wish - or sharp enough teeth -  to make this happen.

The principle of JICWEBS (IAB, AOP, IPA, ISBA and NMA) is right but we need real leadership from this body to set consistent standards of methodology that will allow all stakeholders to trust and use this amazing medium to its fullest.

Our industry must begin to deliver some very clear signals, and brands must be in the driving seat, or there could be a very messy train crash ahead.