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The folly of measuring cross-platform without looking at print

Last week, 14 media and marketing firms announced a joint effort to create a cross-platform measurement tool.  Dubbed the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement (CIMM), the effort has been generally positioned as a reaction to Nielsen’s lack of progress in measuring advertising effectiveness across platforms.

In Advertising Age, Alan Wurtzel, chief research officer at NBC Universal and temporary chair of the CIMM, described the coalition’s work as “very simple – to foster granular, accurate and consistent internet measurement, TV measurement and, down the road, better mobile measurement.”

Spoken like a true videophile, and that’s unfortunate.  Although the coalition includes TimeWarner, NewsCorp and Disney, all of which have significant interests in print, CIMM’s focus remains entirely digital.

Without doubt, advertising money is flowing out of print and toward digital.  That’s not unusual (the media mix has been evolving throughout the last century) and it is not necessarily bad.  But shifting to digital media “because we have figured out how to measure them” without doing the same for print, including magazines and newspapers, is as blind a move as not having measurement for either.

There have been efforts, somewhat scattershot, to measure the effectiveness of print.  That they haven’t succeeded in full is not a sign that they can’t.  If the CIMM is truly interested in developing a cross-platform tool, it should embrace the notion that not all platforms are digital.  Measurement will likely show ways that print can continue to provide value.

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