Why does the Ad world classify digital as unmeasured?

The advertising world classifies media into two buckets, measured and unmeasured. Not being deeply embedded in the advertising world I was surprised to discover which was which.

I would have bet that search advertising, mobile, display, and online video would be in the measured bucket. I was wrong. These are considered unmeasured. TV, radio, and print are considered measured. This seems backwards. How can this be?

It’s because the segmentation came about before the internet existed and ad tracking services like Nielsen were considered the gold standard of measurement. And because big firms have not agreed on a standard, most digital media is still considered unmeasured.

This matters because according to AdAge Internet spending by the Top 100 advertisers is expected to surpass newspapers for the first time, positioning internet in the number two spot, right behind TV.

As companies like Facebook and Twitter battle to attract these Top 100 advertisers they fight a bias that digital is unmeasured. This is peculiar and must be incredibly frustrating for the sales teams inside these technology companies. They will need to work even harder to define standards and create reports that CMO’s will believe in as much as the reports they get for their TV and print spend.

The shift is inevitable. Attention has already shifted online while ad spend hasn’t kept pace. It’s just going to take a while, since something as basic as what is measurable and what isn’t is seemly completely backwards.