A Proposal for a New Taxonomy and Measurement Framework for Digital Marketing

Forrester Research has the best ad spend prediction model out there, and most advertisers, agencies, investment analysts and tech companies use Forrester estimates as the gospel.   However, as the digital marketing industry has evolved, the lingo and taxonomy has created a new opportunity for re-definition.

For example:

-  What really is mobile marketing?

  • Is that a small banner ad on top of a mobile app you see on your phone?  Why isn’t that a “display” spend?
  • Is it spending on a paid search ad that will appear higher on a mobile device than on a PC device?  Why then isn’t that “search” spend?
  • And what is a mobile device?  Smartphones obviously are.  Tablets are said to be.  But then isn’t a laptop a mobile device?

- Similarly on search spend- how much of that is paid search spend versus SEO spend, which are often considered two very different media types.

-  On the social spend estimates- most “social spend” until recently was either banner ads or text ads on mySpace and Facebook, fan page spend, or possibly applet/game spend.   For the banner and text ads again- should that be classified as social spend or display spend- or mobile spend by the way- if it is a banner ad unit showing up on a social publisher on a mobile device.

-  And a great new confusing element will be video:

  • Is the whole video itself an ad?
  • Are we talking about pre-roll, post-roll, interstitial video ad units?
  • What about popover display units?
  • What about the display and search ads around the videos?
  • How about in-video product placements?
  • What about social video?  On mobile devices?  That are primarily found through Google searches?

I think you get my point.  What we really need now is a new taxonomy of digital marketing, one that will help advertisers, agencies, publishers, analysts and others sort out where money is being spent and where to invest next.

An initial proposal would be to cube the media spend model into three dimensions:  publisher/publisher type, ad unit type, and viewing device.

-  Publisher types might be broken out into categories such as:  content publishers and networks (Yahoo, WashingtonPost, Wall Street Journal), search/directory publishers (Google, Bing), social publishers (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), and other yet to be determined publisher types

-  Ad unit types would be things like the “impression”-based IAB standard display ad units, the Google/Bing text ad units, as yet to be defined and standardized video ad units, and any new ad units as they become popularlized.  Earned media listings such as SEO would need to be broken out. There might also need to be an entire category of “expression”-based units such as UGC, Ratings and Reviews, Tweets and Posts that advertisers, agencies and adtech software providers spend serious money on creating, but not through buying impressions.  This spend certainly deserves a line item.

-  Viewing devices would probably be broken down into: desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone, dumb phone, smart TV (IP/internet-enabled TV), cable/satellite TV (which is now getting digital ad unit insertion capabilities).

Across this matrix, we already know that certain publisher types favor certain ad units on certain viewing devices.   Facebook is more display ad units on a smartphone and tablet device.  Google tends to be more text ad units on PC, laptop and smartphone devices.   YouTube and Hulu, as primarily video content publishers, tend to have more display and video ad units on laptops, smartphones, tablets and soon internet-enabled TV.

So a spend and effort matrix broken down by publisher type, ad unit type and viewing device type is Covario’s initial contribution to the discussion on how to create a new taxonomy for predicting and deploying marketing spend and effort.

We’d love to hear your thoughts!