Click Measurement Guidelines

Introduction

These guidelines are meant to establish the minimum acceptable counting procedures for the media buying currency “clicks”. The guidelines are focused on when a click will count - the actual revenue event. As with all measurement standards, click counting organizations including search engine providers, publishers and networks may choose to offer additional enhancements to these guidelines for competitive differentiation, so long as they fully disclose these features while meeting the minimum accepted guidelines.

In many ways, these guidelines are similar to guidelines already in place for general ad impressions and digital video commercials. The definitions included in this document are a continuation of the Measurement Certification Initiative led by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and facilitated by the Media Rating Council (MRC), and these guidelines are meant to be an addendum to the existing Ad Impression Measurement Guidelines published in 2004.


Scope and Applicability

The recommendations established in these guidelines provide the detailed definition of a “click” and the standard by which clicks should be measured and counted, including the identification of invalid and/or fraudulent clicks. The guidelines are intended to cover on-line browser or browser-equivalent based Internet activity. Additionally, any emerging technology utilizing standard HTTP protocols will be covered by these guidelines.

This document is principally applicable to media companies, ad-serving organizations, advertisers, third-party click auditors and the agents of these organizations and is intended as a guide to accepted practice, as developed by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and the Media Rating Council (MRC). Additionally, Internet planners and buyers can use this document to assist in determining the quality of click measurements. This document is intended principally to guide the definition and application of measures that are to be used for commercial, revenue-generation purposes, and not necessarily those that may be developed and used for other internal or related
non-commercial uses.

Audits

Auditing and certification are standard operating procedures for every advertising medium. Magazines, for example, use a circulation process that is conducted by the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC); for TV & Radio it is an audit by Ernst & Young of Nielsen or Arbitron with oversight from the MRC (the Media Rating Council); and so on.

The process of auditing and certification is critical to ensuring consistency and trust in a medium. For years, advertisers and agencies have been concerned that the Interactive medium did not have these essential components in place. Where click measurement is concerned, this issue has been further exacerbated by industry reports on the number of invalid, or even fraudulent, clicks being generated, and by the technical complexity of measures firms take to combat invalid clicks.

For more on interactive industry auditing, please see the IAB Impression Measurement Guidelines page.

The following companies have been certified against the IAB Click Measurement Guidelines by independent auditors within the past 12 months:

Company Name Product audited (if applicable) Certification/accreditation announced
Business.com N/A June 2009
eBay AdCommerce December 2009
Google AdWords and AdSense June 2009
Microsoft adCenter and Atlas Media Console June 2009
Pulse 360 Pulse 360 December 2009
Yahoo! Yahoo! Search Marketing June 2009

IAB member companies that have completed a click measurement audit and would like to be listed here should have their auditors contact Chris Mejia, at [email protected].