Tags, libraries and algorithmic profiling: Mobile Measurement Gathers Pace in Germany

As people spend more and more time looking at their smartphones, so do we. Mobile audience measurement is becoming increasingly important to clients around the world. It's therefore increasingly important to us. By optimising tags and libraries with algorithmic profiling, we can offer rich mobile audience data that clients can afford.

This is illustrated by Kantar Media Spring's activities in Germany. In 2010, AGOF or 'Arbeitsgemeinschaft Online Forschung' (the 'Working Group for Online Media Research') launched a specific mobile measurement study. After testing with a number of suppliers, the joint industry committee decided they wanted something similar to their existing methodology for audience measurement.

Turning to the experts

Once this had been agreed, they naturally turned to two of the companies who had made significant contributions to the advances in German internet audience measurement: TNS Infratest and Kantar Media Spring.

Every platform covered

A total of 120 mobile websites are tagged in Germany; ranging from mobile portals to online magazines. Furthermore, more than 100 of the most popular apps were equipped with Kantar Media Spring's library and, for the first time, every platform is represented - from Android to iOS. These tags and libraries offer full census measurement for 'all the users in the universe'; measuring each person who uses the site or app. Clients receive information on the number of contacts and page impressions, granularity unrivalled by a meter-based approach.

Advertising decisions made easier

Companies can now identify the demographic characteristics of their mobile audience - a German first. They receive a rate figure and structural data. All of this is crucial in helping media planners decide where best to place their adverts. However, socio-demographic information is only available on panellists. Similar to the technology used in cookies to identify browsers, the tag system recognises users by identifying the handset itself. So, we accurately pick-out our 5,000 panellists from the 11 million German smartphone users out there. In some ways, the tag system is even more effective than its browser counterpart, as smartphones are more personal than laptops for consumers. Multiple users are rare and multiple smartphones even more so. Surprisingly to some, this system was preferred to a meter based approach. Despite its accurate and reliable data, there were fears metering was less compatible with the current internet audience measurement methodology for PCs. Furthermore, there were concerns about meters providing a superficial insight into usage, particularly in apps.

Pricey panels

Financial considerations also played a part. Mobile advertising revenue hasn't yet fully matured and it would be extremely costly to recruit a panel big enough to reflect on smaller websites and apps. There is also the fact that recruiting panellists is becoming increasingly difficult. A reduction in conversion and response rate is exacerbated by the personal nature of smartphones.

The solution: Algorithmic Profiling Technology

To circumvent this issue, Kantar Media Spring optimised the tag based system by implementing the tried and tested TNS Infratest Profiling technology. Using a small panel of 5,000 people, Algorithmic Profiling Technology lifts the number to 20,000 and allows smaller sites to be analysed without compromising budget or quality. This is achieved through missing value implementation which is based on the well-proven and widely accepted assumption that people who show similar usage trends are also very likely to have similar sociodemographic characteristics. So, by finding 'statistical twins', it is possible to create many more cases who are not direct panellists - opening up smaller websites to the study. The future's bright, the future's measured Wave one of the study was launched in 2011 and we already provide a mobile measurement service to AGOF. Our investment is now gathering pace. This year will see a further two waves. And in 2013, we expect it to be merged with a regular, stationary web study to become one digital project - recognition that the separation between mobile and non-mobile usage is artificial. The world's media consumption is increasingly instant and on the move. By deploying the latest mobile audience measurement techniques, we are helping our clients keep pace with it.

Oliver Pischke is Managing Director of Kantar Media Spring. He is based in Saarlouis, Germany.

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