The single-source approach to media measurement: A brief introduction to Verto’s methodology
For the past 5 years, we’ve built our platform and products with a consumer-centric, single-source panel as the foundation for modern media and audience measurement. Over the course of this time, we’ve had the luxury of debating and challenging our vision together with the most demanding customers on the planet, allowing us to adjust our methodology, processes, and deliverables to meet the needs of the market. After some iterations, we’re happy to find that we have not deviated far from our original ideas.
At Verto Analytics, we build and maintain a single-source, passively-metered panel, which gives us both a broad and deep understanding of consumers’ behaviors. Combining multi-device meter data with the ability to collect demographic and psychographic information via surveys gives us the possibility to study and understand the digital market at an unprecedented detail and precision. In the following, I will describe the key principles of our methodology in more detail.
- Passive metering: Verto has years of in-house experience in building advanced passive metering solutions across all the major mobile and computer platforms. We support both Android and iOS as well as Windows and macOS operating systems, allowing us to capture and quantify the usage of apps and websites in a standard way, making all the data aggregatable and comparable. The meters also collect rich metadata about device features, as well as contextual data about the location and orientation of the devices during usage.
- Single-source panel: The meters would, of course, be useless without a representative, high-quality panel of consumers willing to participate in our research and install them on their devices. What sets us apart from the competition is our single-source approach to panel building. Instead of building separate PC, smartphone, or tablet panels, we ask our panelists to install our meters on all of their devices. While this requires more effort in the panel building phase, it makes the reporting of the data straightforward and transparent, with no need for complex “fusion models” that often appear as black boxes for customers. Furthermore, as our unit of analysis is, by definition, the individual consumer (and not each separate device or browser), the task of de-duplicating the numbers or analysing multi-device behaviors becomes straightforward.
- Full consent: We are very transparent about our metering efforts with our panelists, and require them to give their explicit consent to being monitored when joining as members of our panel. With this consent, we have the possibility to collect data across all their devices, apps and websites, and do not need to ask for separate consent for each. This is also becoming preferable from our customers’ point of view: for example, many web tagging-based solutions have consent requirements for installing third party cookies, which is becoming an increasing concern, especially in the light of Europe’s impending GDPR requirements.
- Ability to survey: The voluntary nature of our panels makes it possible for us to also survey the panelists on a standard basis. This is in contrast to other measurement solutions, where panelists may even be unaware of their participation, and in general remain unapproachable by researchers. Surveys give us the possibility to extend from the standard “What are people doing?” and “How much?” type of questions towards “Why are people doing that?” and “What kind of people are they?” The possibility to segment a passively-metered panel based on their self-reported demographics and psychographics has proven invaluable for many of our customers. They often have longtime experience using surveys in market research and want to extend their toolbox of more traditional research methods with our passive metering data.
- Fair treatment of content: Our meters capture the usage of all apps and websites in the same way, regardless of the platform they’re running on, or the way the publishers have built them. This also means that we treat all apps and sites fairly, and the publishers cannot opt out from being measured nor affect their numbers by optimizing their content with a specific measurement technology in mind. As a result, we provide apples-to-apples comparison across all the digital content, and have full reach over all the apps and websites being used.
Altogether, the scope, depth, and quality of our approach, as described above, makes us well-poised to face the measurement challenges of the modern digital world. As new ways to consume content are invented, having the consumer at the center will ensure that the market researchers don’t lose the big picture: the holistic understanding of consumer behaviors and the underlying reasons behind.