There is a modern myth that medieval Europeans believed the Earth was flat. Well, Adobe and Nielsen have just announced a collaboration that creates “the industry’s first comprehensive, cross-platform system for measuring online TV, video and other digital content across the web and apps.” As I read their press release, I thought to myself, “If the earth was flat, then these folks would definitely be the first to measure it.”

So, what does this partnership mean? It’s actually a pretty big deal. Nielsen’s digital measurement products will integrate with Adobe Analytics and Primetime, to to deliver analytics and content metrics. Clients that sign up to the service will be able to measure audiences for online video and TV, as well as games, and audio across all kinds of devices including smartphones, tablets, destops, games consoles and OTT boxes. The aim of the collaboration is to encourage brands, media companies, publishers, and advertisers to adopt digital ratings.

Early Industry Support for Adobe/Nielsen Digital Ratings

The new metrics are due for roll-out in 2015, and many of the big media companies like Viacom, Turner Broadcasting, ESPN, Starcom MediaVest, and IPG Mediabrands are already on board. The press release from Adobe and Nielson included half a dozen quotations from executives at these organizations. Let me share one to give you a flavor of the “early industry support” for this announcement. Artie Bulgrin, Senior Vice President Global Research and Analytics ESPN, said:

One of the challenges in digital measurement has been the lack of alignment between site analytics and syndicated measurement data, and we will be working with Nielsen and Adobe to help resolve this.

Measuring Relevance and Resonance as Well as Reach

Okay, so why do I think Nielsen’s Digital Content Ratings, powered by Adobe, is a measurement platform that only Flat-Earthers would believe provides them with everything they might need? Because it only measures one dimension: Reach. 

Reach is a measure of total audience size. Now, measuring audiences accurately and consistently across devices is important. But, measuring Relevance and Resonance are at least as important if you want your digital content or online video ads “to change the hearts, minds, and actions of people,” as Guy Kawasaki says in his book, Enchantment. (He kindly lists me as a contributor, although I only “contributed” four pages about YouTube to his book, which is 240 pages long.)

You are already familiar with Relevance. This is a measure of how relevant a topic is to someone. TrueView Video Ads give viewers control over which advertiser’s message they want to see, and when they want to see them. And Google charge advertisers only when a viewer has chosen to watch your ad, not when an impression is served.

But what is this Resonance thing? According to Simon Trigg of Traackr, “This is a measure of how much activity someone creates when they publish. How much interaction is there with this person’s content?”

Reach, Relevance, Resonance: How to Measure Online Video

Reach, Relevance, and Resonance represent the “3 R’s” of Traackr’s scoring algorithm. The combination of these three metrics drives an Influencer’s “ranking” on any of their lists. It’s worth noting that in their algorithm, Relevance weighs more heavily than either Reach or Resonance.

So, why is Relevance more important and Resonance as important as Reach? To answer this question for yourself, check out Google’s “flipping the funnel” infographic, which illustrates how dramatically the paradigm has shifted for internet marketers and video content producers.

Flipping the Funnel

In the old model which many of us learned in our college marketing courses, most communication is one way – because that’s how mass media like television, radio, newspapers, and magazines worked in the 20th Century. As a result, brands needed to reach lots of people and then winnow them down to the consumers who matter the most. In the new model which I teach in several Mini-MBA courses at the Rutgers Business School, brands invite their audiences to take part by interacting, commenting, sharing and creating. Brands get real-time feedback when ideas resonate and audiences help spread the message.

Video Marketing is All About Engagement

This explains why – historically – TV advertising focused on exposure. But to be successful today, you need to harness the power of video marketing, which should be focused on engagement. By focusing on your most Relevant target audiences first, your brand can generate Resonance and mobilize advocates to Reach their friends, family, and colleagues on your behalf.

On the other hand, if the only metric you have is Reach, then a significant percentage of consumers will probably consider your digital content or video ad intrusive and irrelevant. And this almost certainly will eliminate the likelihood that they’ll share it with others. That’s why I think this narrow focus on measuring audiences accurately and consistently across devices seems as archaic as the belief that “the earth was as flat as a stove lid and that it floated on water like half of a sliced orange,” as Cyrano de Bergerac once described it. As always, let me know what you think.

Nielsen’s Digital Content Ratings data will be available to clients via the Adobe Marketing Cloud, allowing media companies to monetize their inventory and brands to optimize their marketing campaigns. In addition, Nielsen’s measurement data will be embedded in Adobe Primetime to give broadcasters and pay-TV service providers the ability to measure audiences and viewing behaviors across a broad set of devices. The integration also seeks to deliver personalized content and ads.