IAB Releases Measurement Guidelines for Comment

The Interactive Advertising Bureau yesterday released a proposed set of Audience Reach Measurement Guidelines, a collection of best practices it hopes it will be adopted as the industry standard for measuring online audiences.

The guidelines seek to provide detailed definitions for audience reach, as well as for terms like unique users, unique cookies, visits and time spent. They’re also meant to establish a framework in which online properties can be audited. They are available for public viewing and comment at IAB.net/audiencemeasurement.

Having a standard set of definitions and audited measurements will make it easier for advertisers to embrace online media, the IAB says.

“Audience size and composition are vital to planning interactive advertising campaigns,” Lynn Gutstadt, director of corporate research at CBS Interactive and a member of the IAB’s Audience Measurement Working Group, said. “Adoption of these guidelines by the interactive industry will give marketers, agencies and other stakeholders in the digital ecosystem greater certainty in the measurement of our audience.”

The guidelines were unveiled at the IAB’s annual Leadership Forum on Audience Measurement in New York.

“Even if the guidelines achieve little else, if they get people using these disparate terms in a common way that will be helpful for the industry and people outside of it,” said Joe Laszlo, director of research for the IAB.

The guidelines were developed by a working group, brought together in May 2007, that consisted of digital advertising professionals, online media executives and technology vendors — about 42 people in all, said Laszlo. “It has been a long process, but I think the result is a really good document for the industry,” he said.

A public-comment period will run through January 20, when all interested parties can review the guidelines and offer revisions.

‘As with all IAB guidelines initiatives, we think it’s really important that all parts of the ecosystem have a chance to weigh in,” said Laszlo. “The IAB has a finite number of members,” he added, meaning the guidelines by nature represented the views of only a small percentage of the people it could ultimately affect.

“All IAB guidelines are living documents, meant to evolve as the industry evolves,” he said. Following the public comment period, the final guidelines should be released sometime in February.

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