REDMOND, Wash. — July 30, 2009 — Microsoft Corp. today announced it is collaborating with comScore Inc. to develop a digital media planning solution, named the Reach and Frequency Planner (RF Planner), which will allow brand advertisers to predict reach, frequency and audience composition at the ad placement level. The RF Planner uses a hybrid audience measurement method that combines Microsoft’s ad serving data with demographic information from comScore’s panel. It will offer forecasted reach and frequency for online advertising campaigns and comScore’s post-buy reporting to show how closely the campaign performance tracked to the prediction. The tool represents the ability for brand advertisers to conduct the complete front-to-end media buying and planning process in the digital environment, using metrics similar to those existing for traditional media.
To date, the lack of online metrics at the ad placement level that are analogous to traditional audience measurement standards has limited brand advertiser investments in digital media. Branding advertising budgets represent about two-thirds of a $186 billion U.S. advertising market, but only 5 percent of branding advertising dollars are spent on the Internet1.
The collaboration between Microsoft and comScore represents a substantial effort to develop digital audience metrics to help advertisers and publishers plan and track branding campaigns. This hybrid approach is a prime example of how ad server and panel data can be combined to deliver the audience metrics brand advertisers expect.
“The perception that traditional branding metrics are not possible or meaningful for digital media is misguided,” said Scott Howe, corporate vice president of the Advertiser and Publisher Solutions group at Microsoft. “We believe online advertising won’t maximize its appeal to brand marketers until the basic metrics they’ve relied on for years are available in digital media plans. This requires the cooperation of digital publishers and panel measurement organizations, which our collaboration with comScore will accomplish.”
The RF Planner will generate a series of optimized digital media plans that forecast target reach, frequency and gross rating points (GRPs) at the ad placement level. This will allow digital brand marketers to determine whether the impressions delivered by one group of ad placements are likely to be more valuable than those on another when the goal of the campaign is reach and frequency to a specified audience. For example, the RF Planner will help advertisers forecast whether they would more cost-effectively reach women aged 18 to 35 with 10 million impressions on one group of placements versus 5 million on another. Likewise, the RF Planner will help make target frequency goals a more precise element of the online planning process, informing budgeting levels. All of these metrics translate online comparably to how marketers quantify and evaluate traditional offline media plans.
“Brand advertisers need the ability to evaluate reach and frequency by audience composition in ways that are actionable and accountable,” said Gian Fulgoni, comScore chairman and co-founder. “Current online reach and frequency metrics are typically computed at the site level. Measuring reach and frequency at the ad placement level is more precise because it shows the reach of the ad campaign that can actually be achieved, the true potential frequency and the specific demos of that audience. Campaigns planned at a total site level can overstate reach and understate frequency, and may not deliver the desired demographic mix. This new hybrid approach to digital media planning offers the granular campaign-level analysis and streamlined planning capabilities upon which brand advertisers have long relied in the traditional media environment.”
In a recent report titled “Online Brand Measurement: Connecting the Dots,” eMarketer Inc. co-founder and CEO Geoff Ramsey discusses the brand measurement debate currently occurring within the online advertising industry. The report contends that adoption of GRP measurements by online advertising will help integrate digital into the media plans and budgets of the world’s biggest brands.
Ramsey said, “The online advertising industry has done an admirable job providing metrics and accountability for direct-response advertisers, but it’s time we did the same for brand advertisers. Reach, frequency and GRPs are the basic metrics brand marketers need to justify digital media budgets and account for post-campaign results. Digital advertising, like traditional media, must have these fundamental metrics in place before we can hope to capture future share of brand advertiser budgets.”
The closed beta of the RF Planner will begin immediately, with a select number of brand advertisers participating in the initial phase.
About Microsoft Advertising
Microsoft Advertising provides advertisers and publishers with media, tools and services designed to drive deep and profitable engagement with their audiences. This includes a global media network of Microsoft properties such as MSN, Windows Live, Xbox LIVE, and partner properties such as Facebook, WSJ.com and Verizon. The Microsoft Advertiser and Publisher Suites simplify planning and management of campaigns and content, offering a range of services that help advertisers and publishers untangle the complexities of digital media and get more out of their marketing and content investments. Microsoft Advertising makes buying and selling media simple, smart and cost-effective across media and devices spanning 42 markets and 21 languages. Visit http://advertising.microsoft.com for more information.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
1 Lehman Brothers/ThinkEquity Partners report; 2008 Internet Data Book
Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass on Microsoft’s corporate information pages. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may since have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/contactpr.mspx.