IAB makes a stand around Auto-Refresh … well, sort of …

I just got this from the IAB’s PR agency re their position on Auto-Refresh.

Reading it I am not sure there’s much to be taken out of this. I’m also not convinced it acknowledges the issue – that the practice is inflating engagement and creating pageviews and ad impressions that will never be seen by humans but will be paid for by advertisers.

A policy based around ‘reasonableness’ feels way too ambiguous to me. As an issue it’s a black or white one.

“Assessed for reasonableness based on the refresh rate and the nature of the content being refreshed” – for me this seems like a policy that cannot be policed or evaluated. What is ‘reasonable’ and who decides? What if an IAB board members definition of reasonable is different to an advertisers?

I am sure that in some circumstances refreshing content is fine and ethical – no question – but stop using total page refresh and start using kit like Ajax which allows content to refresh but means the ad doesn’t. Easy – problem solved.

If this is TRULY about the user (which I don’t think it entirely is) this would solve the debate and put it to bed forever.

IAB board members, this decision is yours to make.

Here’s the statement they made earlier.

Statement from IAB Australia:

IAB Australia Measurement Council moves on auto refresh guidelines

IAB Australia today announced that its Measurement Council is drafting guidelines and best practice for the application of auto-refresh following a review of the practice, measurement and reporting of auto-refresh of web content in the Australian market.  The guidelines, which are being drafted in collaboration with the MFA and AANA, are expected to be published for industry wide comment by the end of March 2010.

IAB Australia’s initial position is that, in line with global industry guidelines, site-set refresh rates are assessed for reasonableness based on the refresh rate and the nature of the content being refreshed.  Consumers expect and want updated information on sites where content is being regularly updated, such as news, sport and weather.

The review acknowledges the importance of providing agencies and clients who are buying advertising on these sites more detailed information to help them make informed buying decisions.

The IAB is working with measurement providers, primarily Nielsen Online in the Australian market, to provide transparent data and to split out auto-refreshed page details from other page impression data.  Nielsen will work with publishers to implement code that makes this data separation possible.  IAB Australia will also encourage publishers using other site centric measurement solutions to provide this information to clients.

IAB Australia is committed to the growth of the Australian interactive advertising industry and through its various Councils; and in collaboration with other key industry groups such as the MFA, is working to provide advertisers, agencies, and its members with global best practice and local guidelines to make advertising online more effective and more efficient.


4 responses to “IAB makes a stand around Auto-Refresh … well, sort of …

  1. “Consumers expect and want updated information on sites where content is being regularly updated, such as news, sport and weather.”

    Yes, so use modern techniques to auto-update without a full page refresh. You know you can do it!

    Though I think focusing on them using it to lift “engagement” (session length) scores misses the point really. Any “engagement” measure is going to be gamed unless it’s independent — you’ll never be able to rely on that, and it’s too indirect to be meaningful anyway.

    But the auto refreshes, as I’ve always said, are a scam to sell impressions that in fact devalue them.

  2. Simon’s right – you don’t need to refresh the ad spots but you CHOOSE to.

    When newspapers inevitably stop publishing weekday issues they will need their online inventory to be highly valued and continuing to scam advertisers through auto-refresh is storing up trouble for the future.


  3. Pingback: Digital Media Ethics: Advertising | The Green Eyed Monster

  4. Pingback: Digital Media Ethics: Wrap-up | The Green Eyed Monster

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