ABA Web Audit Service - Towards Standard Online Audience Measurement Metrics

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

After an industry wide collaboration between ABA (Audit Bureaux of Australia), the MFA (Media Federation of Australia), the IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) of Australia, the AANA (Australian Association of National Advertisers)and Nielsen Online, the Audit Bureaux of Australia has official released yesterday their new Web Audit Service.

What is the Web Audit Service

The web audit service is a hugh milestone in the Australian media landscape as well as in the web analytics industry. Partnering with Nielsen Online, the ABA aims at setting up a new online audience measurement standard (as they did with print), which will provide reliable, comparable and independently verified web audience metrics.

Basically the idea to set up a standard web measurement system (Nielsen Online) as the reference for accurate and reliable data for web traffic. If you have a website or work with websites, you have probably noticed the strong discrepancies between web analytics systems. Each system collect data in different ways and often use different metrics, which leads to a real confusion for advertisers.

By selecting one web measurement partner, the ABA expect to standardize the web data collection and metrics, which allows reliable and accurate comparisons.

What does the Web Audit Service offer

The web audit service will provide (to its members) audited web reports on 5 key metrics:

- Unique Browsers (unique visitors)
- Page Impressions
- Sessions
- Frequency
- Duration

The ABA will also audit the placement of web measurement tags on publishers websites as well as monitor how the data is collected by Nielsen Online.

Each member will be able to access the comparative data from Nielsen Online (Market Intelligence)

The Benefits & implications

The web audit service will have strong implications on how the online advertising industry works.

The new service will allow small publishers to be able to compete on the same ground as large publishers. Agencies and Media buyers will be able to access reliable data on the long tail of websites. Advertisers will have more visibility on their online advertising spending. As a results it is expected to open the online advertising industry to a larger audience.

Small publishers should be the biggest winners as they will be able to market themselves in a more effective way to agencies and large advertisers.

The Challenges

Nielsen Online and the ABA have made sure that the service is affordable (from $95 /month for publishers with 0 to 150,000 impressions), however the success of the service and concept will strongly depend on the adoption by small publishers.

While modest, the monthly fee could deter smaller publishers, who can access web measurement data through Google Analytics. I believe the fee could be one of the major drawback to the general adoption of the standard.

A partly free/partly paid service could have been a better option.

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