Demand ABA audited traffic data!

The MFA recently sent out a memo to all members compelling them to demand audited traffic data from all websites they deal with in an advertising sense.

The memo came from Kerry Field, who heads up the MFA’s Digital Committee. She asked members to “please encourage your staff to start demanding online publishers for audited numbers.”

As someone who works in the media world, and also as a member of the MFA I can’t applaud this initiative enough.

Gary Hardwick – who chairs the MFA commented.

“Our industry spends billions a year making media placement decisions and rightly so, our clients are increasingly looking for confidence in the decisions we are making on their business – this is why transparency and accuracy of data and information is mandatory. The ABA audited web data process, without question provides this confidence and I encourage our industry to be extremely cautious about using numbers that have not agreed to undergo this process to make these commercial decisions.  The truth is in the detail and for sites that are not audited, can we believe in the numbers?”

What basically happened is the MFA and ABA sat down over an extended period and worked out a set of agreed criteria around ‘fair play’ when it came to things like Auto-Refresh and other actions that impact on the effectiveness of advertiser investments. A set of guidelines was drafted and passed by the MFA for the ABA to regulate.

The letter sent to members can be found here …

The issue right now is not enough sites have not taken part in an audit with the ABA – or if they have, they haven’t passed. The list of sites that are not audited currently are some of Australia’s largest (you can tell the sites that are audited by a green box with a white tick within it)

– all ninemsn sites
– all Fairfax digital sites excluding the AFR
– all News Digital Media sites
– all Bigpond sites
– all Yahoo! sites

In fact the only groups to have passed the ABA guidelines with websites in the top 200 for AU are

– Sound Alliance
– CBS Interactive
– Haymarket
– The Australian Financial Review

Interestingly all members of the IAB are not currently compliant with the initiative.

On that topic, Gordon Towell of the ABA told B&T “There is now no reason for any publisher not to participate given the low-cost to audit and the opportunity to provide credible information to their media buyers and advertisers.”

Demand audited data!


9 responses to “Demand ABA audited traffic data!

  1. I shall be most interested to hear why the majors have not been passed.

  2. joelyrighteous

    I support this initiative whole heartedly. There is nothing our industry needs more right now than clarity in its numbers. Words cannot describe how sick I am of looking at numbers that are so obviously inflated. It does the publisher no service, is an insult to the intelligence of those they are presenting too and has the potential to damage brands trust (and therefore investment) in the people they are buying media from.

  3. Also stay tuned – in the new year I will publish a case study of what actually happens to web traffic figures when you add auto-refresh code and then remove it.

    The amount of inflation is *much* larger than you think, with Session Duration hit the hardest!

  4. Gai - IAB Australia

    Both the MFA and the ABA are active members of the IAB Measurement Council and the auditing rules that the ABA are using for their subscribing clients are under review. IAB members will individually review whether they wish to subscribe to the ABA service. Some members have already signed up (e.g. CBS), the other publishers have not failed the audit process.

  5. talkingdigital

    hi gai, i find it odd that no members of the IAB committee have taken part in the process whereas others have. Surely it’s in everyone’s interest to take part in this? Especially given the questionable tactics practiced by some around auto-refresh and the like.

  6. “The truth is in the detail and for sites that are not audited, can we believe [in] the numbers?”


  7. Whatever. totally amazing this is still going around. It’s like 10 years of groundhog day

    Anyone with any experience of the history of media counting would know it’s an endless game largely controlled by the big publishers.

    This is irrelevant to big online publishers that have more inventory that anyone is going to buy. It’s largely irrelevant to most online ad planners – we’ve only been doing this for a decade already without auditing. The only numbers that matter are your campaign numbers – manage them, know them, get them right.

    This does provide an opportunity for smaller players to get into display advertising – but an expensive one.

    No reason at all for this to be ABA certified. This was pioneered in the UK many years ago about building confidence in the industry for old people who can only think TARP. They will never get it so why bother.

    Industry guidelines on reporting should be enough and everybody move on please.

  8. Pingback: What is happening with the ABA’s web audit for AU? « talking digital – Ben Shepherd

  9. Pingback: Peace talks held over autorefresh rates for websites - mUmBRELLA

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