IAB Releases Media Glossary

The Interactive Advertising Bureau released on Wednesday a glossary of terms used in the digital media business — but which also hints at the group’s hotly anticipated guidelines on ad measurement.

According to the New York-based IAB, an industry association representing media sellers, the glossary is meant to help dispel some of the confusion hampering the growth of Web, wireless and interactive TV advertising.

“Within companies, there was great confusion on words that were using every day,” said IAB president and chief executive Robin Webster. “Also, we found this true between buyers and sellers — to me, that’s why there needs to be a single glossary that everyone uses.”

The glossary ranges from the basic — defining “banner,” “chat room,” and “copy” as one might expect — to the elaborate, such as “cache busting” and “302 Redirect.”

But it’s where the glossary delves into discussing the contentious and controversial issues surrounding ad serving and recording impression that things get ambiguous.

An “impression,” for instance, is defined as a measurement, which can be either “client-initiated” or “server-initiated” — thus avoiding the issue of how specifically to measure impressions:

Impression: … a measurement of responses from an ad delivery system to an ad request from the user’s browser, which is filtered from robotic activity and is recorded at a point as late as possible in the process of delivery of the creative material to the user’s browser — therefore closest to the actual opportunity to see by the user. Two methods are used to deliver ad content to the user – a) server-initiated and b) client-initiated. Server-initiated ad counting uses the publisher’s Web content server for making requests, formatting and re-directing content. Client-initiated ad counting relies on the user’s browser to perform these activities. For organizations that use a server-initiated ad counting method, counting should occur subsequent to the ad response at either the publisher’s ad server or the Web content server. For organizations using a client-initiated ad counting method, counting should occur at the publisher’s ad server or third-party ad server, subsequent to the ad request, or later, in the process.

According to Webster, the upcoming guidelines should not only clear all this up, but also “will go much deeper — they’ll actually show how to do most things … like accounting, not just definitions of words.”

Indeed, sources close to the IAB say the group could release some preliminary information from the guidelines as early as next week, although Webster shied from any hard deadlines. She did confirm that the IAB’s measurement group aims to have its final meeting on Nov. 5, during which members will share final recommendations.

“I am so encouraged by how close we’re getting … in defining how to get there,” she said. “But what’s important now is that we have this glossary, so we’re not continuing to talk like the Tower of Babel — rather we’re all using same definitions.”

“All the terms used in the IAB glossary are behind the media buying Terms and Conditions [released earlier this year] … and will support what’s coming down the line in terms of the [impression] measurement guidelines,” Webster added.

At any rate, the IAB isn’t the only group working on hammering out some standards for the industry. The Advertising Research Foundation, a non-profit industry association founded by the Association of National Advertisers and the American Association of Advertising Agencies, is currently coming up with guidelines for accurately measuring audiences online.

Meanwhile, firms like ABCi — the interactive unit of the non-profit magazine circulation analysis firm Audit Bureau of Circulations — are working with both the IAB and the ARF’s Digital Media Measurement Council to come up with audit-supported procedures.

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