Monday, September 17, 2007
IAB Heralds Progress in Audience Measurement — Announces Major New Conference to Address Interactive Audience Metrics

IAB Audience Measurement Leadership Forum scheduled for November 29, 2007

New York, NY (September 17, 2007) - The Interactive Advertising Bureau today announced the progress that has been achieved in the auditing and accreditation of the two major interactive audience measurement companies, in the wake of the IABs historic Audience Measurement Summit on May 16, 2007.

Progress Report Since May 16

At the May 16 summit, held in the IAB boardroom, Nielsen//NetRatings announced its intent to enter into a full audit and accreditation with the Media Rating Council (MRC), the independent body chartered by the U.S. Congress to steward media measurement. Nielsen//NetRatings has completed a pre-audit and is now in the process of a full audit overseen by the MRC.

At the same time, comScore indicated a commitment to finalizing the timeline for a full audit and accreditation within 90 days from the May 16 date. comScore has completed its pre-audit and is currently reviewing the MRCs report and proposal for a full audit but has not yet committed to a timeline. For a full statement on the progress of comScore and Nielsen//NetRatings, please see the accompanying MRC Accreditation Process Status Update.

The entire marketing-media value chain wants and needs clarity and transparency in interactive audience measurement, so were very pleased that Nielsen//NetRatings has begun its full audit and that comScore is preparing to launch one, said Randall Rothenberg, President and CEO of the IAB. We were gratified that so many industry stakeholders have supported this drive, and were committed to working with all of them to continue to prove and improve upon the fact that interactive media are unparalleled in their ability to reach and engage consumers in ways that can accountably drive marketers growth.

Also at the May 16 summit, the IAB agreed to help lead an industry-wide initiative to educate marketing, media, and agency executives about best and emerging practices in audience measurement, and continue to drive the consensus development of measurement guidelines for interactive media.

Delivering on that commitment, and responding to industry-wide interest stirred by the interactive media trade associations push for transparency in audience measurement, the IAB announced the creation of the IAB Audience Measurement Leadership Forum. This full-day event, scheduled for November 29, is designed to demystify audience metrics for media, agency, marketing, and research executives. The first of a planned annual event, the conference will explore and explain different methodologies, highlight distinctions among various measurement models and provide insights on the current state of metrics.

Also pursuant to its commitment, the IABs Audience Measurement Working Group, in conjunction with the MRC, has moved forward on the promulgation of Audience Measurement Guidelines. The guidelines will define unique visitors, page views and time spent, and they include a review of the impact of cookie deletion, international traffic, spiders and bots and other factors on audience measurement. This will be the first time that industry guidelines exist for audience measurement.

The Audience Measurement Working Group includes representatives of media companies, agencies, and measurement firms.

To further its audience measurement initiatives and its commitment to marketplace education, the IAB also announced today that it has established a new Research Advisory Board, a strategic adjunct to the already existing IAB Research Council, whose charter is to define the cross-industry efforts necessary to educate the industry about critical issues in audience measurement.

The members of the IABs Research Advisory Board are:

  • Keith Berkelhamer, CNN.com
  • Dr. Thomas Evans, ESPN.com
  • Betsy Frank, Time Inc.
  • Jonathan Gibs, Weather.com
  • Corey Jeffrey, MTV Networks
  • Stephen Kim, MSN
  • Scott McDonald, Cond Nast
  • Dan Murphy, Univision Online
  • Bruce Rogers, Forbes.com
  • Barbara Rice, ex-officio

Background on the IAB Open Letter, Call for Auditing
The IAB issued a call for the independent auditing and accreditation of major interactive audience measurement services in an open letter to the CEOs of comScore and Nielsen//NetRatings on April 19, and invited executives of these companies to join other industry executives at a summit meeting to discuss the future of interactive measurement. That summit, held on May 16, included executives from the two large interactive audience measurement companies, staff and members of the IAB, and representatives from numerous industry trade associations, including the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF), the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA), the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the Magazine Publishers of America (MPA), the Media Rating Council (MRC), and the Online Publishers Association (OPA). The parties agreed to release a progress report about 90 days after that meeting.

For a full timeline on the Open Letter and audit call, go to www.iab.net/audiencemeasurement

Background on the MRC Accreditation Process
The MRC accreditation process involves several key milestones. An important initial milestone extended to measurement services that commit to the accreditation process is the completion of a Pre-Audit. A Pre-Audit is a walk-through of the services procedures, internal controls and documentation by the MRCs Independent CPA Firm to initially assess the services compliance with the MRC Minimum Standards for Media Rating Research (the Minimum Standards). The results of this evaluation are reported by the CPA Firm to the service and the MRC. Thereafter, the service and the MRC work together to establish a plan to cure identified compliance issues and finalize the audit timetable.

The MRC audit, which is also conducted by the CPA Firm following the pre-audit, includes an independent, detailed and objective examination of each significant aspect of the operations of the service. The audit is designed to validate that the measurement service complies with the Minimum Standards and resulting audit reports illuminate many performance metrics of the service to the MRC member-constituted audit committee for the service.

Accreditation, when achieved, indicates that the measurement service has completed the audit process and the MRC Board of Directors has determined the service materially complies with the Minimum Standards and other requirements such as full disclosure.

About the IAB:

Founded in 1996, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (www.iab.net) represents over 300 leading interactive companies that actively engage in and support the sale of interactive advertising. IAB members are responsible for selling over 86% of online advertising in the United States. On behalf of its members, the IAB is dedicated to the continuing growth of the interactive advertising marketplace, of interactives share of total marketing spend, and of its members share of total marketing spend. The IAB evaluates and recommends standards and practices, fields interactive effectiveness research, and educates the advertising industry about interactive advertising.

IAB Media Contact:
Marla Nitke
Marketing Communications Director
[email protected]
212.380.4714

Read the MRC Accreditation Process Status Update here. (.pdf).