If you can't measure audience, measure results

On the widely varying results of Web audience measurement:

“One of them can be right, or the other one is right, but they can’t all be right,” said Jack Wakshlag, chief research officer at Turner Broadcasting System. “It’s interesting that people keep talking about it as much more accountable than other media, but we’re not finding that to be the case yet because there’s no agreement on metrics or accounting methods.”
-- New York Times

It's not measurement; it's guesstimate.

The "measurement" firms each claim to have the secret sauce so instead of working together to make their counts more accurate, they just pound their chests and say theirs is better than the other guy's.

And this is a business? Works like the Mafia. Publishers pay "protection money" for the right to at least challenge the data and clean up the most egregious errors. Marketeers in the speakeasy are buying drinks all around.

I think Nissan has the right idea. Measure results.

There are several examples of how this system is being using in the Forbes article linked above, but here's a telling example:

For a recent car launch Nissan tracked how ads in different media outlets affected consumer behavior. It spent 66% of its ad budget on TV commercials, 28% on print ads and 6% on search and banner ads on the Internet. After surveying car shoppers Nissan found out that 53% of those who saw the campaign on TV, in print and online had a favorable impression of the vehicle, compared with 37% who didn't see any of the ads. Among those surveyed, 19% of respondents who saw all three types of ads said they intended to take test drives, while only 9% of Nissan ad nonviewers planned test spins. The model also indicated that the carmaker would have sold just as many vehicles but spent less on advertising if it had allocated 40% of its budget to print and dialed back spending on TV spots to 54% of its budget. "The cost implications [of that conclusion] are huge," says Stephen Kerho, Nissan's director of media and interactive marketing.
Nashville-based Nissan U.S. operations have been able to cut advertising costs per car by getting more value out of their ad dollars. Now, that's audience research and good marketing..

(via Lost Remote)