ABCi to Begin Wireless Site Audits

ABCi, the online unit of the Audit Bureau of Circulations, is promoting its new capabilities to review wireless sites’ Internet activity — a development that could hasten the establishment of standards for publishers and marketers in the nascent mobile advertising space.

Rolling Meadows, Ill.-based ABCi said it recently completed an audit of mobile publisher AvantGo’s service, in a first-run of its Mobile Device Activity Audit.

Through the accreditation, New York-based AvantGo becomes the first mobile service to have been approved by ABCi’s audit process. In addition to the initial AvantGo service audit, ABCi said it would perform monthly audits to confirm ongoing service compliance.

In much the same way that the not-for-profit Audit Bureau of Circulations does for magazine publishers, ABCi said the new mobile process would help media buyers monitor campaign performance and maximize their marketing dollars.

The process involves ABC auditors reviewing transactions captured by AvantGo’s systems, then examining the records for accuracy. As a result, an audit confirms the number of Web page impressions and click-throughs made by a publisher’s wireless and offline users, ideally indicating to advertisers that they can be assured that their media contract has been fulfilled, with accurate reporting by the publisher.

“Having ABCi audit our process provides advertisers with proof of our performance, which engenders additional confidence and trust in the excellence of our products and services,” said Neil Versen, vice president of sales for AvantGo’s Mobile Marketing and Commerce business.

Added ABCi’s Dick Bennett, who is the group’s senior vice president of information technology auditing, “Online advertisers have begun to recognize that the best way to battle a volatile economy is to arm themselves with dependable, verified performance data that leaves no room for misinterpretation.”

The news comes amid efforts by the online advertising industry to shore up its impression- and campaign-accounting procedures. Earlier this year, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) unveiled preliminary guidelines for counting page views and ad impressions — guidelines that are to be refined in conjunction with ABCi and groups like the Advertising Research Foundation.

In terms of establishing guidelines for measuring and reporting impressions and page views in the wireless sector, little has been done to date. The Mobile Marketing Association, the largest mobile marketing trade group, has said that establishing industry standards is one of its chief goals. Issues of privacy and advertising formats, however, have been higher priorities for the association.

The new audit also continues efforts by ABCi to develop new products as advertisers and agencies become more sophisticated, and as emerging media moves into the marketing mainstream. Earlier this year, the group rolled out an auditing process for e-mail marketers.

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