Will an online currency fuel big rise in display ad spend?

UKOM is poised to launch the first online planning and buying currency using The Nielsen Company to deliver the service in January. Will this prompt advertisers to ramp up online spend?

NO - Will Oatley, Digital strategist, UM
The absence of a planning currency hasn't held advertisers back from spending online. It seems unlikely that key brands will increase display spend based on standardising data that already exists and which already instructs most plans.

Display advertising is only a part of digital marketing; the bulk of spend generally goes towards search, and sophisticated clients demand more engagement with audiences. With that in mind, is a single currency so important for the digital medium when there are many other measurable factors?

Are most online plans solely constructed on reach and frequency? I'd hope not. Historic ad-serving data already informs the savvy marketer of audience overlaps or where efficiencies are to be found.

It seems rather out of date to apply old media measurements to digital media, as anyone asked to calculate an online gross rating point will testify.

NO - Emma Ellis, Digital insight manager, MediaContacts
At the moment, Nielsen's planning system offers us nothing new. We can already calculate reach and frequency metrics using a number of tools including comScore and Gemius.

Not only this, UKOM still negates the value of cookie data, meaning it does not help agencies to eliminate the long-standing confusion about the differences between internal client metrics and the publicly reported third-party audience estimates.

Having a unified data source will allow us to be far more transparent and consistent in our media plans. However, this tool won't allow us to factor in other digital formats, such as search or video, which are increasingly making up the bulk of our plans. Without this, we will still be planning and buying in data silos.

A fully fledged planning tool may bring us one step closer to a holistic online currency, but until we have the latter, I don't envisage a discernible increase in display spend.

NO - Justin Taylor, Interaction partner, Mediaedge:cia
UKOM is a good initiative, but it is way overdue. The benefit is a single, unified planning resource.

Online data has never been in short supply, but it comes from multiple sources, with multiple methodologies and predefined levels of trust from publishers. Explaining these differences to clients and planners is cumbersome at best.

On one level, I welcome the introduction of UKOM, but as digital media has moved away from simple formats into richer, more engaging media, I will find it hard to use any of the "standard" audience measurement tools to create an effective prediction to my clients.

We need multiple sources - from audience basics to behavioural patterns (and a lot in between) - and use systems that aggregate this data effectively across multiple digital channels. But, in essence, UKOM is old media thinking.

YES - James Wildman, Managing director, IDS
The introduction of a standardised, industry-backed, online audience measurement system is a big step forward for the digital market and will almost certainly produce an uplift in display ad revenues.

Digital advertising has always sold itself on delivering accountability, but without a means of comparable demographic targeting, the true potential of branding campaigns has not yet been recognised.

The UKOM planning and buying currency will give fast-moving consumer goods and high-end advertisers the transparency and measurability they have been seeking and will increase online brand counts. It will also give media planners and buyers more flexibility in structuring campaigns and will encourage cross-media opportunities.

I am very encouraged by this first stage of development and look forward to the subsequent phases when online video will be included in the measurement.

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