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FAST Measurement Panel Seeks Comment on Guidelines

The FAST (Future of Advertising Stakeholders) Measurement Committee's audience measurement subcommittee has issued a set of voluntary guidelines and is seeking feedback on them from the industry.

All suggestions will be considered and following a 45-day period, FAST will issue final voluntary guidelines for the industry.

"Audience measurement is perhaps one of the most frustrating business issues facing agencies and publishers today," said FAST chairman Rich LeFurgy. "Credible and reliable online measurement is the burning issue for online advertising and is key to the continuing growth of the medium."

The goal of the Audience Measurement Committee is to reach a common set of measurement principles, creating a framework for intra-industry agreement, resulting in consistent reporting.

In developing its voluntary guidelines for audience measurement, the working group examined the three types of online media measurement currently in use:

  • User-Centric, in which the user is the immediate subject of measurement.
  • Site-Centric, in which the Web site server log entries are the subject of analysis.
  • Ad-Centric, in which the ad server log entries are the immediate subject of measurement.

The positive and negative aspects of each of these methods were evaluated with the objective being to count or estimate the number of occasions that a user has the opportunity to see (OTS) an element of online media content. User- centric systems can provide data regarding the characteristics of users who can potentially be reached by a given site. Site and ad-centric systems can count the exact delivery of ad for post-buy evaluation.

Recognizing that significant advancements of both quality and utility available will be available for all three measurement systems in the months ahead, the principles as set out in the full report address the immediate opportunity for advancement of these techniques.

The guidelines call for:

  • Clear differentiation of the three types of measurement.
  • Development of principles that apply to all three measurement methods.
  • Establishing common terms and definitions.
  • Identifying areas where basic research is required to establish the most valid method for measuring online audiences. Details are available here.

Spearheaded by the Advertising Research Foundation's Jim Spaeth, the FAST Measurement Committee's working group for audience measurement was chaired by Time Warner's Scott McDonald.