First off… no, I’m not going to launch into a hypersyllabic erudite-fest of Lacanian identity theory (you would need to give me a glass of wine first).
In this case, I pose the question in a media sales sense.
Riddle me this:
Let’s say you have 300,000 social locations in the US (bars, restaurants, etc). Each of these locations hosts an average of 200 patrons per night. Now say an advertiser is promoting his brand via OOH digital signage in 300 of these locations. That would give him 60,000 visitors (but not “absolute uniques”).
Would you still call this an audience of 60,000? Or, because you can’t discretely account for overlap in the same way you can’t truly determine uniques on a website (i.e. users may use more than one computer and advertisers are often buying space on a wide array of sites), can this only be referred to as “total visitors”?
Why am I getting all finicky with semantics? And does my next word problem have to do with two trains leaving stations in Duluth and Rotterdam? (No, but I have always wanted to go to Rotterdam…)
Well, because of this foxy little catch-22:
Well, because Dave Haynes and Barnaby Page are better at math than me.
Now let’s say an advertiser is promoting his brand in all of these 300,000 locations (the 200 person variable stays constant). That would give him a brand reach to the tune of 60 million total visitors.
Absurdly high, right? Or rightfully aligned with the OOH segment as a respective comparison to old media buys? Do the shifting means of media consumption (digital vs. print being the obvious example) affect the definition of “uniques”?
Put another way, would JayneKarolow-in-Applebee’s-at-9pm be considered the same “audience member” as JayneKarolow-in-JFKAirport-at-7am? Does the unique location make for a unique experience… and thus make for a unique piece of the advertiser’s audience?
I know you see my question forming.
When using the word audience… (quit the drumroll, it’s trite)
What are networks selling?
What are advertisers buying?
[The math on this post was edited at 8:29am on Saturday, June 14th in response to the comments of Dave Haynes and Barnaby Page, while I shovel my face full of humble pie...]