Facebook’s inflate-gate put a spotlight on the problem with a platform being a walled garden. But while Facebook may get more attention because of its size, other platforms also have their measurement issues. While Facebook’s overcounting of its video viewing was “a massive error,” said Benjamin Arnold, business director at We Are Social, “the other platforms are still behind in advertising offerings and integrations.”
Until they catch up, the holy grail of having one yardstick that lets marketers measure how their ads are performing from one platform to another is far off. Here’s a platform-by-platform assessment:
Growing its ad business will be critical for Snapchat as it prepares for an IPO, so it has built an ad API and has started rapidly signing on 10 measurement companies including Nielsen, Moat and Oracle Data Cloud to track ad viewability and performance. Snapchat is still in the early stages of implementing them, but the promise is that those companies should help brands compare the results of multiple campaigns at once, which was a laborious process in the past. There’s no doubt Snapchat has done well — it’s on track for a $1 billion ad business next year.
But there’s still progress to be made. Snapchat doesn’t collect much data on its users, which limits the ability for advertisers to target them, said Ben Winkler, chief investment officer at OMD.
“Big brands want data that they’re creating on their own accounts. There’s not an easy way for everyone to get their own data on who their audiences are,” said Nick Cicero, founder and CEO of Delmondo, a creative studio and social analytics firm. “That’s a key standard other platforms have.”
Twitter was late to the measurement party, but it’s catching up now that it’s trying hard to become a live-streaming platform, and it’s providing an average minute audience rating for its NFL broadcasts, which is the same way TV is measured. That helps make up for what Twitter lacks in ad formats and deep metrics, Arnold said. “They are trying to go back to a traditional type of measurement, because it’s more commonplace. I think it’s smart.”
Twitter uses Nielsen and Moat to measure ad campaigns’ reach and viewability. It’s also piloting an integration with Google’s DoubleClick that will make it easier for direct-response advertisers to tie ads to offline sales, said Anita Walsh, director of social strategy for Horizon Media. Twitter still doesn’t provide partial views of video ads that run on its platform or say when audience drops off, which advertisers want, though, said Kitty Tsang, digital strategist for creative agency Ready Set Rocket.
Pinterest uses Millward Brown Digital to measure brand lift and Oracle Data Cloud to measure sales lift, and says it expects to start using more third-party measurement companies soon. But one agency gripe is that the platform limits advertisers to using its own pixel, which limits data collection to its own platform. This could be part of the reason the visual scrapbooking platform lags far behind Snapchat and other platforms in revenue (it brought in $100 million in 2015, while Snapchat is projected to hit $1 billion next year).
“It’s not accounting for the fact that there is a media mix and brands will always have a media mix,” said Walsh. “What we should be looking to is an independent solution as opposed to platforms grading their own homework.”