Advertisers Demand Accurate Online Audience Measures Before Increasing Web Ad Spending - Associated Press
"Bob Liodice, CEO of the Association of National Advertisers, said corporate leaders have been ratcheting up the pressure on marketing departments to justify their ad budgets with hard proof they are generating business.
In response, TV broadcasters this fall started counting how many people watch commercials during a show."
By SETH SUTEL
NEW YORK (AP) — Online advertising jumped 25 percent this year, raking in a cool $20 billion, but Internet executives say that figure could have been even higher if advertisers had reliable and consistent ways to measure online audiences.
Unlike traditional media, where each format has one main ratings provider — The Nielsen Co. for television, Arbitron Inc. for radio and so on — there are many sources of data on online audiences. And they frequently conflict.
Disagreement also continues over which criteria best gauge users' potential interest in a product or service. And the resulting data aren't easily comparable to ratings in other media anyway.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau, which represents more than 300 Web publishers, has called for Nielsen Online and comScore Media Metrix to undergo audits by the Media Rating Council, a process that is still under way. ComScore and Nielsen both still use panels, while Quantcast Corp., a relatively new agency, combines panel and Web-based data to produce ratings.
Resolving what to measure is as complex as deciding how to measure it. Some sites produce their own ratings based on internal server logs, on the theory that panel-based data understate traffic. But comScore says internal logs can overstate traffic when users delete identifying files called cookies from their browsers because servers think they're seeing a "unique visitor" each time that user arrives.
Counting unique visitors can also be challenging — and lose meaning — when an individual logs in to several different computers, or a family of six all use the same computer. "Page views," once a key indicator, haven't been since Ajax software let people view different elements on one page instead of going to a new page for each one.