Panel Based Cross Platform Measurement. Interview with Dr. Hannu Verkasalo of Verto Analytics

Dr. Hannu Verkasalo, CEO of Verto Analytics, started out as an entrepreneur straight out of school. “I built a few consulting companies using my skills in data analytics, and helped big telcos in Europe to better measure and understand their consumers,” he explained, before moving into building technology products. He added, “Throughout my career, I’ve always focused on constant learning, and I’ve had the pleasure of working with top talent and forward-looking customers.”

Charlene Weisler: Tell me about your company.

Hannu Verkasalo: Verto Analytics is the world's first consumer-centric media measurement company. We independently collect data in the market, using a unique panel-based single-source audience measurement approach. We track consumer media behavior across all platforms and channels, 24/7. Based on our methodology, we’ve built a set of media measurement products and services. Using an information-as-a-service model, we help big brands and technology companies understand their competitive landscape, monetize their audience, and better target advertising dollars in a cross-platform omni-channel world. We are based in Helsinki, Finland, with offices in New York City, San Francisco and London and are venture-capital backed.

Charlene Weisler: What are the viewing behaviors of the cross-device consumer?

Hannu Verkasalo: The cross-device consumer is becoming the norm. Close to 75% of American adults use at least two devices per month and almost 40% use at least three. Smartphones are used throughout the day, PC use peaks in the daytime, and tablets have gained market share during prime time versus TV use. The next generation of consumers is going to be even more mobile-centric versus being tethered to a PC or a TV.

Charlene Weisler: What is the most important cross-device metric for advertisers?

Hannu Verkasalo: Net reach, which is defined as the total number of unique, unduplicated viewers of an ad or unique count of consumers for specific content. It’s critical for advertisers to gauge the net audience that a given campaign or selected properties can potentially reach - regardless of the channel or device.

Charlene Weisler: How can you measure attention and engagement?

Hannu Verkasalo: Attention by tracking what people see on the foreground of their devices and whether people take actions based on the content they see. Do they make a purchase or leave the app only to return five minutes later? We measure every user interaction with the device second-by-second. One of the most popular metrics to measure attention is the cross-device clickstreams people go through based on a trigger, like search, advertising or social. We have built some metrics to quantify this.

Engagement by counting the seconds people use a specific service, app, or site, on the screen. We track this second-by-second, validating exactly what people do and for how long. One of the popular new metrics for engagement we have invented is stickiness: Services that have a high stickiness rating also have high loyalty and attention among users.

Charlene Weisler: Is the lack of an industry standard content ID protocol a challenge in measuring cross device comparably across advertisers? Media companies? Marketers?

Hannu Verkasalo: Visibility into what consumers are doing cross-platform is an enormous challenge for the industry. You hear that from media companies, marketers and advertisers. We address this challenge with our single-source passive measurement panel. Rather than measuring device use by tying together data from a mobile panel or PC panel, we measure engagement of a single consumer across all devices and content. We connect all that cross-device activity back to that unique consumer.

Charlene Weisler: If so, how can we get to an industry standard?

Hannu Verkasalo: Consumer behavior has changed more in the last five years than the past 50. Consumers switch between multiple devices and services throughout the day, but many companies still struggle with measuring this behavior due to lack of visibility and measurement methods that don’t do a good job of quantifying consumer behavior. The industry needs a modern measurement standard to meet the demands of brands, advertisers and publishers. Media companies, like Turner, Viacom and many others are stepping up to the plate to lead that charge.

Charlene Weisler: What makes your company different from others in the space?

Hannu Verkasalo: We are the only audience measurement company that measures all media usage, 24/7, across all platforms and devices. We work with leading brands to assess and define modern use cases for this type of media measurement data from product development and road mapping to media planning and consumer insights.

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