What methods exist to measure advertising effectiveness?

We review, in order of appearance, the most important advertising measurement methods with their pros and cons.

Jun 29, 2022

As we know, measurement is a fundamental exercise to be able to draw conclusions from our advertising spend and make it more efficient in the future. However, the fragmentation of consumption has made measurement an increasingly complex exercise.

What methodologies are available to advertisers, researchers and agencies today? In our fifth "FLUZO Answers", we address a basic topic: a review of the most important measurement methods, in order of appearance.


As we commented recently, surveys are at the very origin of audience study and research. Although we will talk about questionnaires and declarative data in general later on, surveys are still the basis of radio measurement in Spain as part of the General Media Survey.

The variable accuracy of its results, its low frequency -quarterly- and its lack of focus on advertising consumption are some of the limitations of this methodology for measuring advertising effectiveness in this medium. On the other hand, it has two advantages: it is the market standard - the entire industry understands it - and it is part of a global study on how media is being consumed.


The other major player in this pre-Internet group is the traditional people meter, designed for television measurement. Based on panels, it is still the industry's most powerful source of data for measuring this free-to-air medium.

Among the drawbacks of the methodology are that it is exclusive to this medium; the panel, designed only for the TV universe (instead of a cross-media universe representing the entire population) can be distorted; and its measurement is restricted to the home. Among its advantages is its high accuracy, the high specialization of its data for advertising and, as in the previous case, its current status.


Let's turn now to the solutions developed to measure the Internet, thanks to the Internet. For digital media, methodologies have evolved into technically sophisticated hybrids, combining census data with the activity of individuals from a panel and advanced machine learning methodologies and third-party datasets.

The advantage of this methodology is undoubtedly in the granularity it offers; again, the downside is that it only tells us what has happened with digital, and hybridization produces conflicts, especially in a 'cookieless' context.


In the case of Smart TVs, the image-based ACR technologies integrated in these devices are well known, as they recognize all the content viewed on the screen. In this case, the measurement is semi-censual - only households with the manufacturer's own Smart TVs or those which integrate third-party measurement technology are included in the measurement. Its advantage is, again, the high level of detail in the data they produce. Their handicap, surprise, surprise, is that they only measure TV consumption on the device and consumption in the home.


A more recent methodology (and the latest in a saga of similar methodologies) is one represented by focal meters. These are devices connected to the home to record consumption on the various screens connected to return path data from the router. Here at last we have a methodology that combines the consumption of different media. The great advantages of these devices are that they can jointly measure television, SVOD and YouTube and, in addition, they offer data which is highly focused on advertising effectiveness.

The cons are that they are still limited to recording exclusively what happens in the home and that they cannot measure other media such as radio or on-demand audio; in addition, there may be devices that are not connected to the router and that share a panel with the TV, with these samples’ virtues and limitations.

And to all this, we must add the arrival of new mobile internet protocols (6G) that will render router systems obsolete in homes, so that we will no longer have this "box" from which to control the information on the user's devices.


And we arrive at the methodology based on ACR for mobile audio, such as the one FLUZO developed and currently uses. With this technology, the panelist's cell phone becomes a mobile people-meter capable of monitoring the audiovisual context of users wherever they are and regardless of the medium or device being used for consumption. Although today there are some limitations when it comes to making attributions, the methodology has two great advantages that none of the other methods have: it does not focus on the medium or the device (device-centric), but rather on the individual (user-centric) and it records consumption both inside and outside the home.

Having 'contextual' measurement, oriented to the individual and not to the medium, makes us independent from walled gardens at a time when the boundaries between media -and between the teams in charge - are blurring at a rapid pace. Today the industry is struggling to figure out how to incorporate the contribution of TikTok or OTT into the overall measurement of a campaign, but who knows what might be just around the corner?

As for the ability to record what's happening outside the home as well, it's clear how cell phones have blurred the traditional boundaries of media consumption, delocalizing and generating endless moments of consumption throughout the day. And their popularity continues to grow.

And let's remember that the other possibility of this observational measurement on a single panel is to combine it with the usual declarative post-test studies. But we don't want to repeat ourselves.

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