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IAB ISSUES FIRST-EVER GUIDELINES FOR INTERACTIVE AUDIENCE MEASUREMENT AND ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN REPORTING AND AUDITS
Source: IAB

New York, NY - January 15, 2002 - The challenging issue of online ad impression measurement, which has been labeled as the top priority of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), has been addressed by guidelines developed by an IAB-lead industry consortium of organizations and companies. With the participation of the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF), ABC Interactive (ABCi), and the Media Rating Council (MRC), and supported by the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA) and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the IAB is introducing these voluntary guidelines in order to make interactive advertising easier to buy. Based on an extensive six-month study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the guidelines, which identify and define five key metrics in the measurement process - ad impressions, clicks, visits, "unique" measurements (browsers, visitors and users), and page impressions - point to site-side data disclosure as being integral to accurate measurement and reporting of interactive advertising data.

The full text of both the IAB Ad Campaign Measurement and Audit Guidelines and the IAB/PWC Online Ad Measurement Study can be found at www.iab.net.

Based on the independently conducted PwC study, which included the active participation of AOL, Atlas DMT, CNET Networks, Inc., Walt Disney Internet Group, DoubleClick, Forbes.com, MSN, New York Times Digital, Terra Lycos and Yahoo!, the Media Rating Council (MRC) lead the industry committee in the creation of the actual guidelines. The study's primary objectives were to: 1) review the current measurement criteria and practices used by the sell-side participants for online advertising and audience measurement reporting; 2) determine and report the comparability of existing metrics used by the industry; and 3) propose a common set of industry definitions and guidelines for data analysis and reporting.

"I am very happy with how these guidelines have worked out so far," said MRC CEO George Ivie. "The cooperation of the participants -- the IAB, the participating media companies, PwC, the ARF, ABCi and the MRC -- has made this document very strong. The discipline driven by strong filtration procedures, the standardization of the measurement metrics, disclosure and auditing specifics will improve the consistency and accuracy of Internet site and ad-server measurements, providing the enhanced confidence advertisers and agencies need. Hopefully these guidelines will eventually reduce agency reconciliation time also, which is an added benefit."

"We hope that the work released today is a wake-up call to everyone (clients, publishers, agencies, research organizations and adserving companies) about the importance of standardizing measurement practices. We can't stress enough, however, that today's announcement means nothing if there is not quick adoption, and continued refinement to address evolving technology and advertising solutions," said Adam Gerber, AAAA's Interactive Marketing & New Media Committee Chairman. "The IAB has taken a lead in solving this problem, and we fully support their approach."

"For the past five years ANA members have been surveyed regarding their Internet advertising activity and lack of reliable and accurate measurement information consistently rank in the top three reasons why ANA member companies do not purchase more interactive advertising," said Barbara Bacci Mirque, ANA Senior Vice President. "We support the efforts of the IAB, ARF and MRC in addressing this important issue."

In compiling their report, all of the participating organizations supplied information to PricewaterhouseCoopers on their measurement criteria and practices and cooperated in interviews and testing. PwC's procedures included interviews with employees, reviews of policies, definitions and procedures, execution of scripted testing used to assess the collection and reporting systems and analyses of results for differences and for the purpose of suggesting consistent definitions.

"As online advertising becomes an integral part of mainstream advertisers' media mix, advertisers are demanding more accountability," said Tom Hyland, Partner and Chair of PricewaterhouseCoopers New Media practice. "At the same time, the process, systems and data metrics supporting online advertising are becoming more complex. These guidelines go a long way in helping make online advertising an easier buy for advertisers and agencies. PricewaterhouseCoopers is proud to play an integral role in this comprehensive industry effort."

"These voluntary guidelines for ad campaign measurement and audits are a milestone in the growth of the interactive advertising industry as they are focused on creating a consistency among all parties to the process," said IAB President & CEO, Greg Stuart. "These guidelines, backed up by the master list of spiders and robots that ABCi has created, and the glossary of terms which the IAB issued several months ago are expected to eliminate between fifty and seventy per cent of the discrepancies that now exist. These guidelines provide benchmarks from which our industry can now be effectively audited."

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