As web marketing grows, businesses will have more metrics to judge the effectiveness of their campaigns.

Measuring the reach and impact of marketing has never been easy. Newspapers had to rely on raw numbers of issues sold, TV depended on Nielsen data and even Google has difficulty accurately measuring web traffic. As Brafton reported earlier this year, the search engine has to work to make sure it filters out bots and other non-human views when giving reports to Analytics users.

That’s why the Media Ratings Council has been withholding support for viewable impression metrics. Much like Twitter’s Impressions, viewable impressions are meant to be a measure of how many people actually saw an advertisement or web marketing element. However, as with most internet traffic, not all impressions are generated by actual human consumers, so the MRC didn’t have confidence in the numbers various systems were producing.

Impressions are going live

Now, the MRC has tentatively signed off on support for viewable impressions metrics in online advertising. It lifted the advisory it initiated in 2012 in an industry communique, though it did caution marketers and advertisers to be wary at this early stage in the life of viewable impressions.

This is big news for content marketers who are anxious for more quantifiable data. And while the MRC’s gradual acceptance of new metrics mostly applies to advertising, it signals increased confidence in the broader measurement of online visitors and customers. For instance, Brafton reported on LinkedIn’s latest suite of data-driven tools making marketing on that platform much more effective.

New numbers have some growing up to do

However, businesses looking to expand the reach of their brands and improve overall web marketing strategies need to understand these measurements are still in their infancy. While web traffic and unique visitors are reliable metrics, engagement is perhaps the single most important factor companies should be pursuing. In many ways, engagement needs no measurement and can be performed in any industry, among any demographic. High-quality content, active social campaigns and customer feedback form the backbone of content marketing strategies, and new benchmarks can be used to assess the performance of these tasks as they’re developed.

Alex Butzbach is a Marketing Writer at Brafton. He studied Communications at Boston College, and after a brief stint teaching English in Japan, he entered the world of content marketing. When he isn't writing and researching, he can be found on a bike somewhere in Metro Boston.