According to reports, last Friday the ABA, IAB and MFA all sat down and talked about the increasingly heated topic of auto-refresh and the new ABA guidelines – http://www.auditbureau.org.au/web_audit_services.php
The MFA had come out in December of 2009 urging MFA members to demand ABA compliance from their suppliers.
Reports are, the IAB and its board members weren’t happy with this approach and the issue became a delicate one. Hence, the meeting last Friday.
Mumbrella is reporting that all groups are close to a resolution – http://mumbrella.com.au/peace-talks-held-over-autorefresh-rates-for-websites-16289#comments
I covered the issue a week ago – https://talkingdigital.wordpress.com/2010/01/14/what-is-happening-with-the-abas-web-audit-for-au/ – and IAB CEO Paul Fisher made some comments.
Reading back all of these articles the issue still seems cloudy. I’ve heard numerous reasons for why the process hasn’t been adopted by the larger players – everything from cost (which cannot be true given the costs to audit) to labour required to the wider issue of measurement of all elements of digital media.
What is clear is that there’s some frustration out there around the issue – particularly from advertisers and media buyers. Another thing that appears to be clear, is that there is a perception that many suppliers inactivity around the issue is due to the fact it’s not in their interests to stop the practice in terms of inventory and engagement metrics.
The excuse used for auto-refresh is that it provides the user with the most up to date news – which is debatable. Why? Well – loads of the sites practicing it are practicing it on pages that don’t update with new content, and pages that update so infrequently the page would need to auto-refresh 100 times to get anything new.
Plus sites like Twitter and Facebook auto-refresh without generating a new page impression – so the technology argument appears a limp one.
The main question that needs to be answered is – what would happen to the non compliant sites user numbers if they turned off auto-refresh tomorrow?
What impact would it have on
– page impressions
– session duration
– pages per unique
So … if the ABA, MFA and IAB are all sitting around chewing the fat around transparency, may I suggest some other issues that could be brought up at the table?
– stop auto-play on in article video. Fairfax are a particularly enthusiastic adopter of this practice and it’s increasingly annoying. Would be more respectful to the user if these in-article videos were user initiated. It’d also give advertisers much more honest, clear metrics around usage.
– split out traffic numbers across sections. It would be handy to know traffic figures around index pages, article pages, slideshows etc. For TV we can generate these sorts of numbers.
– discussion around stronger metrics around die-hard, regular and passer by users. This is something available in the US and helps advertisers get an idea of how loyal an audience is. I’d imagine if Quantcast can do it, a Neilsen or equivalent should be able to do it. Given SEO and SEM is still vital for many sites to generate traffic (often shallow engagement traffic) it would get an idea of how many people enter via a front page or visit regularly, and how many are entering via search – reading and then leaving straight away
– some guidelines around clutter. DO we really need 10 ads on a page? With pressure on yield increasing the issue of clutter is relevant as throwing another ad on a page is often an answer to the question of generating more yield. Problem is – how many ads can a user feasibly take in? And doesn’t placing another ad on the page just devalue the other ones?
– IP/location reporting through Nielsen. Impossible to split out where users are coming from through any of Nielsen’s tools for agencies … so we never really know how many of Brisbane Times users live in QLD … or how many The Age readers are in Melbourne … which makes things difficult as we know this for all TV shows, radio stations and magazines. Sometimes feels like this data is something the sites often don’t want out in the public (as most of them have it through Site Census and other anayltics tools)
Anyway, the debate so far is encouraging. Let’s hope it moves from discussion into action and change.