ABCi to Audit E-Mail

The Audit Bureau of Circulation’s online unit says it plans to turn its attention to tracking

e-mail, in an effort to stamp out concerns over list accuracy and delivery validity — and perhaps

help produce some standards along the way.

For direct response service bureaus and e-mail distribution companies, the Chicago-based ABC

Interactive said it would study the systems used to create and deliver e-mail campaigns —

analyzing internal processes and reporting standards.

Meanwhile, ABCi also said it would provide auditing services for list managers and marketers

that would review the results of specific campaigns. ABCi said it would be able to verify the

accuracy of lists’ purported size and demographic makeup, their compliance with stated privacy

rules, agreed-upon merge/purge activity, delivery and results.

The group’s president and chief executive, Bruce Smith, said the unit’s third-party e-mail

verification service would help advertisers and their agencies get more accurate measurement of

the performance of their e-mail campaigns — thus benefiting the industry at large.

“We want to offer assurance to list owners as well as advertisers and agencies that e-mail can

be a potent marketing medium, by verifying its required activities,” he said.

In addition to detecting problems that might hinder e-mail campaigns’ success, the ABC audit

also is intended to be something of a “seal of approval” — signifying that the audited firm is

capable of accurately executing and reporting on campaigns, in accordance with contractual

requirements. (The same is true for its venerable parent, which is funded and patronized by the

print magazine industry.)

As with Web metrics, since the industry has yet to produce any hard-and-fast standards for

e-mail marketing, ABCi said that it would generally proceed “in the spirit of full and accurate

disclosure, with input from the clients and industry groups.”

In that regard, such an audit practice could help the e-mail marketing industry by weeding out

inaccurate procedures and players, and by making it easier for an apples-to-apples comparison of

different vendors.

Already, the group is working with associations like the Interactive Advertising Bureau to

hammer out standards governing ad serving metrics and reporting, and it is huddling with the

Advertising Research Foundation’s Digital Media Measurement Council to create audience auditing

standards. Now, it said, it plans to do the same for e-mail.

News Around the Web