International media audit body agrees Web measurement standards

Arguments and confusion about the true 'readership' of Websites may be one step closer to being resolved. The first international standard for audits of Website activity has been agreed by an organisation representing media audit bureaux in 29 countries.

The first international standard for audits of Website activity has been agreed by an organisation representing media audit bureaux.

The executive committee of the International Federation of Audit Bureaux of Circulation has announced reporting and measurement standards which define the metrics of such measures as page impressions, visits, ad impressions served and click-throughs.

The standard is based on input from 10 member bureaux and was unanimously approved by its executive committee .

This Website could be one of the first audited under the new rules. IDG Managing Director Martin Taylor says he plans to audit under the ABC rules as soon as the standards are published and procedures put in place. Taylor is also the new media spokesman for the Magazine Publishers Association.

"The concept behind the ABC is that audit standards and procedures should be set, monitored and continually reviewed by a cross-industry panel that includes representatives from all major parties with a stake in the accuracy and usefulness of the data," says Taylor.

"The current Audit Bureau of Circulations includes publisher, advertiser and advertising agency representatives from their respective industry bodies. A similar committee could be set up to oversee the ABC's Internet audit. It provides a forum for all parties to air their issues and concerns, and ensures that the methodology remains up-to-date and the resulting research is relevant. This approach has worked well for print publications and should translate equally well to the emerging online products."

The IAFBC has confirmed its expects the standard to evolve "in line with the with evolutionary nature of the Internet and interactive media" and its standards committe will continue to work on it.

The new standard has been welcomed by Per Mortensen, President and CEO, FIPP (Federation of International Periodical Publishers), who called it "a unique step in international media measurement and accountability. Publishers and advertisers alike will benefit from this action as they reach beyond their traditional markets into the international marketplace.”

Bernhard Adriaensens, of the WFA (World Federation of Advertisers) has emphasises the global angle, noting that "the development of international measurement standards allows advertisers to make media decisions on a comparable basis internationally."

Founded in 1963, the IFABC represents audit bureaux in 29 countries, including New Zealand. Its member bureaux date back to the 1920s and were founded to resolve much the same situation as greets Web publishers now - the lack of a body to independently verify and report circulation claims. Each bureau is a non-profit association, providing auditing services for advertisers, agencies, publishers and now electronic content.

The standard is not yet available, but press releases and other information, including an audit certificate prepared to a provisional international standard by the ABC in the UK, are at:

http://www.abc.org.uk/electronic/

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