Why your digital measurement needs to focus on people, and not

  • I recently sat next to a man on the Hong Kong tram who was simultaneously playing Pokémon Go on two smartphone devices. I'm not sure if he was battling himself, but if so, I hope he won!

    This is an important reminder, for all of us working in digital measurement, that devices and people are not the same thing. If you’re like me, you probably have a myriad of devices on or near your person for almost every waking moment of the day. Until recently, I had two laptops (one work, one personal), two smartphones (one work, one personal), a tablet and aApple TV. If you were to analyse my online behaviour at a device-level (typical with most web/app analytics), you would be forgiven to think that my visit to a news website during my workday from my work PC, was a different user than my visit to that same news website from my personal smartphone later that evening. Equally, you might not be able to match this to my consumption of other forms of content, like watching VOD, if carried out on other devices or apps (e.g. I typically watch long-form video content on my tablet or Apple TV device).

    We recently conducted our own people-based measurement of digital habits by device. The results showed, like with my own behaviour, that many people (66%) turn to more than one device in a typical day. We also found that those behaviours varied by device – e.g. Maps had above-average usage on Smartphones, and Long-form Video had above-average usage on Tablet. You can download data from this study from our website.

    These differences in behaviour highlight why people-based measurement is so important, and luckily, it is becoming more common in certain markets. For example, Nielsen and the IAB recently launched its Digital Content Ratings product in Australia – an independent, people-based measurement of computers, smartphones and tablets reported at a daily frequency. This kind of regular, robust measurement will, no doubt, bring new insights into behaviour that we previously couldn’t see, and will focus advertisers and publishers on people-based outcomes. After all, it’s people that ultimately consume advertising and buy products, not devices!

    Peter Hammer is Managing Director of Marketing Scientist - a marketing and research consultancy focussed on delivering evidence-based strategy and actionable insight. He was previously a member of the IAB Measurement Council, during the time of the Nielsen Digital Ratings launches in Australia.