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IAB Plans to Develop Audience Measurement Standards

The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) said that it has begun a broad-based industry effort to develop voluntary guideline standards for audience measurement of the Internet.

A September target date has been set for completing and publishing a final document, "IAB Online Audience Measurement Guidelines."

"Inconsistency in the reporting of Internet audience measurement continues to be a concern for advertisers and a major barrier to more accelerated growth of online advertising," said Rich LeFurgy, IAB chairman and senior vice president of advertising at Buena Vista Internet Group.

"In developing their media plans, advertisers and agencies need to evaluate the online medium against traditional media's well-established research history. We intend to help educate the industry on the correct usage of online audience research, as well as develop voluntary minimum guidelines that will help deliver more consistent, reliable and understandable audience measurement," he said in a statement.

As the first step in developing these standards, the IAB hosted an "Audience Measurement Summit" meeting following its annual membership meeting in San Francisco earlier this month, according to LeFurgy. Joining the IAB at this summit were representatives from leading media research firms, as well as advertisers, advertising agencies, ad management firms, online media companies, and organizations representing these constituencies.

Present at the meeting were reps from audience research companies such as Media Metrix, Relevant Knowledge, Nielsen and NetRatings, and advertisers such as Intel, IBM and GM Cyberworks. The Association of National Advertisers and the American Association of Advertising Agencies, as well as CASIE also participated, as did several agencies, including Media.com, Modem Media.Poppe Tyson, BBDO, Anderson & Lembke and Lot21.

At the summit, participants appointed a working committee to develop a draft document to present to the industry in July. Three major areas will be addressed:

  • Best Practices--intended to 'raise the bar' on the quality of online audience research by establishing voluntary minimums that conform with generally accepted research practices.
  • Education--intended to aid the online advertising and marketing community in comparing the research results available from different measurement companies.
  • Research--intended to explore and explain the differences among the various measurement companies, and to experiment with new ways to generate more accurate audience counts

The IAB intends to publish the final guidelines in September.