New Trade Association Seeks Standards for Social Media Advertising

There’s been no shortage of talking — or, more accurately, complaining — in recent years about the lack of measurement surrounding social media advertising. How does a marketer gauge success, or determine a fair price, or compare results of a social media effort versus other media? A new group with an unusual name is taking it upon itself to answer these questions.

The Social Media Advertising Council (SMAC) is a group of ad agency and media executives who plan to design the first set of universally accepted standards for the buying and selling of social media, as well as a common vocabulary and measurement techniques. Leading the group as founding chairman is Tom Gerace, CEO of social network Gather, who announced the formation of the group at the OMMA Expo in New York.

“We kept bumping into the same conversation when going to meet with agency clients,” he said. “Questions like, ‘It looks great but how does it compare to other media?’ It was obvious people didn’t know how to quantify success, and there were no standard measurements.”

The group will hold quarterly meetings in New York and monthly teleconference meetings in an attempt to draft an eventual industry recommendation.

“Our charter is to come up with an actual vocabulary with specific descriptions of what we mean by engagement, how we bucket people and what those buckets mean, to come up with standard ways of measuring, what buyers will find valid, and to create buying units,” said Gerace. “We want to make it as easy to buy in the engagement space as it is in the media space.”

Other members of SMAC include Dave Balter, CEO of BzzAgent; Don Epperson, CEO of Havas Digital; Ian Schaefer, CEO of Deep Focus; and Adam Cahill, SVP and general manager of Carat.

Gerace said the group has contacted the Interactive Advertising Bureau to invite the trade association to be a part of the effort. Gerace said SMAC had yet to receive a response from the IAB.

Contacted by ClickZ, David Doty, SVP of thought leadership and marketing at the IAB, said, “As the interactive advertising industry’s primary trade association, we have a long history of supporting emerging technology, and we’ll be watching with interest and support as SMAC develops, and we welcome their involvement in the IAB.”

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