Metrics Malaise Comes to a Head

MediaPost (reg req’d) reports this morning that traffic metrics are the center of a dispute between the IAB and comScore and Nielsen:

The Interactive Advertising Bureau late last week issued an open letter to comScore and Nielsen//NetRatings requesting they submit to a third-party audit of their measurement processes.

Although the IAB has spent years pushing the two major Web audience measurement services, an audit by the independent Media Rating Council is more likely now because there’s a sense of urgency and greater industry support, said Randall Rothenberg, president and CEO of IAB since January. The issue of bad metrics, he said, was the resounding issue that IAB members named when he assumed the job.

“The IAB and the MRC have been asking for this since 1999 and they haven’t even established a timetable,” said Rothenberg, alluding to the measurement firms. “Tensions are running high as the Internet becomes the center of all marketing.”

Publishers in particular have long been dissatisfied with the way their traffic is reported. For more mature sites, traffic metrics can translate directly into ad rates and, for younger sites, funding and M&A opportunities. And for public companies metrics can impact stock prices. Recall the controversy and verbal combat over whether MySpace had passed Yahoo as the Internet’s biggest site.

There’s obviously a great deal at stake in this debate. We’ll see what happens and whether a uniform system that has “buy-in” from major publishers and marketers emerges from the discussion.


Related: Here’s the IAB letter. PaidContent summarizes the responses of the two companies with links to their press releases.


One Response to “Metrics Malaise Comes to a Head”

  1. John Duncan Says:

    It’s relevant too for those publishers in both print and online who need to have sensible assessments of what the scale of audience really is on one platform or another.

    Given the publishers currently scrambling out of print and online they might be interested to find out just how fragile the numbers that their decisions are being driven by really are.

    I recently worked out that despite lots of pretty numbers with millions after them, the Guardian, one of the most successful newspaper websites in the world, uses figures on its website that suggest an audience double other figures they were aware of. How can an advertiser make sensible judgments between print and online unless the same rigors of measurement are applied to both.

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