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Mobile,Media Planning

Mobile Ratings Take Shape In Asia

Online ratings firm comScore has started building out its mobile measurement service in Asia, releasing data for participating sites in China, India, Malaysia and Singapore. Hong Kong and Taiwan are next in line.

It’s the beginnings of a long-awaited move that will give extra momentum to internet advertising across all screens with a clearer picture of consumer behavior. Digital media consumed on the go, such as music and news, should get a significant boost.

ComScore, which monitors PC internet traffic in homes and offices, has already started tracking mobile audiences in other parts of the world, including Australia.

In Asia however, its only established mobile service is a quarterly survey in Japan which measures platform usage but not site visits.

As a result, media buyers rely heavily on companies selling mobile ad space, such as Facebook, Google and InMobi, for information on mobile consumption in Asia.

Third-party data would be a welcome development, helping expand a digital trading currency beyond PCs.

“We only know one half of what is happening,” says Bharad Ramesh, a former buying head for Starcom and ZenithOptimedia in Southeast Asia, who recently left to set up a digital media consultancy, eMVC.

A snapshot to start

ComScore has adopted a staggered approach to mobile measurement, initially capturing unique visits and page views for publishers that agree to have special software installed on their sites and apps.

In general, the most popular local publishers, as well as international portals such as Yahoo and MSN, have signed up.

Some major mobile players are missing, however. Facebook is not taking part, while the initiative covers YouTube but excludes other Google properties such as search.

In the near term, comScore is planning to augment findings in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Taiwan with a market survey gauging device penetration, as well as audience size and demographics.

This subsequent step, which will show the reach of sites taking part, has already been implemented in Australia.

Similar moves in Asia’s other large digital markets are unlikely, however. It has been difficult persuading sites in Japan to accept comScore tags, while the agency shuttered its Korean service two years ago.

Nielsen also runs a mobile measurement service in Japan, although data is not publicly available.

The final step in comScore’s rollout  a representative panel of mobile internet users that reflects all online traffic  is up and running in a handful of markets in North America and Europe, but remains some way off in Asia.

Recruiting and maintaining a panel of mobile users is more expensive than creating one for PC, explains Joe Nguyen, SVP for comScore in Asia-Pacific.

Running a mobile panel costs about US$0.5 million a year, Nguyen notes. Respondents are less keen on taking part, while churn is higher. Extra technology costs also add to the bill.

“The market is not willing to pay for that yet,” Nguyen tells Media Business Asia.

Beyond Ratings

Meanwhile, advertiser spend on mobile, an increasingly ubiquitous and personalized communications channel, continues to grow.

"Having a GRP or ratings measurement currency for mobile is currently not a barrier," says Sunil Yadav, Asia-Pacific president of Dentsu Aegis Network's media buying and partnerships arm, Amplifi.

As a more engaged and intimate medium, advertisers want mobile to deliver more than impressions and rating points, Yadav says.

"It's seen as a supplement to other channels in the whole consumer journey," he says, "where mobile can help bridge and deliver higher engagement, or even take it one step closer to actual purchase or point of sale."

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