Breaking News: The Audit Challenge
On April 20, the IAB sent an open letter to comScore, Inc. and Nielsen//NetRatings (NNR), the two major Internet audience measurement services, challenging them to submit to a third-party audit and accreditation of their measurement processes by the Media Rating Council (MRC). All measurement companies that report audience metrics have a material impact on interactive marketing and decision-making. Therefore, transparency into these methodologies is critical to maintaining advertisers’ confidence in interactive, particularly now, as marketers allocate more budget to the platform.
A number of issues prompted the writing of this open letter. Many marketers, agencies and media companies have had ongoing concerns with the currently unexplained discrepancies between the audience numbers reported by comScore and NNR. Further clouding the issue are disparities between comScore’s and NNR’s numbers and the server logs of the media companies, most of whom are IAB members. Every other medium has transparency into audience metrics, the internet is the only medium that does not. This was a call from the industry – the IAB, The American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA), The Association of National Advertisers (ANA), The Online Publishers Association (OPA), and the Newspaper Association of America (NAA) are all in full support of the need for transparency.
Since this letter was issued, the IAB has had numerous discussions with both companies. Both NNR and comScore have agreed to undergo an MRC audit, and in NNR’s case full accreditation. The IAB remains committed to both companies getting fully accredited. A summit to discuss the issues of auditing and to open the dialog for collaboration in striving for even better metrics has been set for mid-May. We are encouraged by these initial steps but will continue to ask for a specific timeline which is followed. Only then will true accountability go from promise to reality.
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