Ok so Australia wants to lead the way in analysing and measuring user behaviour.

Cross-industry committee issues Industry Blueprint for Online Audience Measurement

Very interesting – and in essence I agree, we do need to move towards people not impressions. It is good to see the forward thinking of how this should not be locked into web-browsing alone, but begin to permeate into other forms of digital media (or current traditional as they too are powered from a digital directive).

I have long been a believer that digital’s big advantage is in less wastage for direct advertising – a 1% response rate is not acceptable whether a DM piece or a CTR!

If we take the view that 10% of a company’s turnover is generally spent on advertising – whether that’s on the mobile phone bills of a salesman, building a marketing or PR department, or projecting a message onto a billboard hoarding – anything that alerts an end user to a product or service, that 10% is a huge outlay to any business. So anything that can shift that 10% to even 9% – that 1% means huge savings and ultimately more pennies in shareholders pockets.

We have got ourselves locked into measuring response in online for far too long. At the end of day people are complex and not so transparent and linear. Measuring time spent with a brand as opposed to just an immediate response is much more akin to user behaviour in the real world.

I will see an ad, maybe several times before it gets my attention, maybe someone needs to bring my attention to the product down the pub, then if interested I will research it, may even try it, check my bank balance, whatever, before I respond… lots of factors – and that “time” to convert, time of exposure, number of times exposed, where, when, how – all has a bearing – and so yes, as marketers seeing trends across groups, knowing groups are made of individuals then some kind of technical currency such as impressions has got to have a benefit.

At the end of the day – user click-streams reveal much about habits that can be turned into financial reward. However, this MUST be caveat against privacy and the rights of an individual.

It is not acceptable to say just because it can be done, means it should. Moral ethics needs to be applied here and more so as that 1%+ saving of brands turnover will put huge pressures on the industry to challenge the rights of an individual. Careful balance needs to be struck.

I may well have favoured brands, even happy to buy their t-shirts and sport their logos – but it is still “my” choice, however coerced I was behind the scenes. I may choose to sign up to certain lists and offers from those chosen brand – and may even be happy to receive discounts on occasions as a reward for my loyalty – irrespective of what media device I happen to be in front of – browser, phone or billboard. But only if I opt in with full knowledge of the implications, and I don’t mean hidden in some small print.

Therefore when you start talking about the “consumer as a mass” group and then mention “age, occupation and household income” – are these overall catchments really groups – or personal identifiers? The latter needs to be protected at all costs.

Anything that can give greater insight into how many people are in the street, how many people walked into a building, how many people went into the coffee shop inside, how many people bought a decaf cappuccino. Go a stage further; how long did they spend in the queue and how many people take away vs sit down, and how long did they spend in the coffee shop, for both take away against sit-down – are all useful norms and can be applied to any kind of business and media intelligence, from business projections and how much coffee to order.

To go stage further and say Dean comes in at 8.55 Monday to Friday, always asks for an large mug of coffee with an extra shot and uses brown sugar, usually pays cash and hangs around for 4 minutes before leaving to exit to the right. Wooaaah, this is way too invasive – I may be a loyal customer but I am no mug myself – and despite any commercial advantage to the coffee shop, I am not relinquishing control into the hands of the shop owner ultimately having no idea what he could do with that information… sell it to prospective ‘mug-gers’ perhaps? Yes, the pun was intended!

The last time someone marked and identified individuals and tried to alter their buying habits was in 1939 – and we know where that all ended up…