It felt like last week some real progress was made around implementing more rigour around web measurement.
Three prominent publishers committed to the ABA audit – Austereo, IDM and Allure – and management from OMD and GroupM made some direct statements around how they would treat websites/publishers who chose to continue using Auto Refresh despite industry pleas to stop the practice.
We know that Auto Refresh is a key issue and what it does to engagement metrics such as time spent on a page and pageviews. I personally applaud the actions taken by Mindshare’s Kerry Field and OMD’s Paul Elliott.
It will be interesting to see what happens as a result of this. The large publishers (who so far have refused to be audited and practice auto refresh on some pages) reportedly were meeting last week to discuss the issue.
Small and large publishers are both equally guilty of taking a casual attitude to the issue. Smaller sites probably moreso – at least the large players are visible through Nielsen and are trying to work through ways to disclose their use of Auto Refresh (stopping short of actually halting the practice) … however the attitude of many small sites is a mix of casual ignorance and arrogance.
At Sound Alliance we approached a number of websites playing in a similar space to us and asked them to seriously consider being audited.
The silence was deafening. We received a minimal response and were accused of ‘bullying’ these sites by simply asking them a question on why they were avoiding being measured.
Three months on none of the sites have made any real effort to become audit compliant. 80% of these sites aren’t even on Nielsen Market Intelligence, claiming a “cost issue” whilst running campaigns for multinational clients like Virgin, Pepsi, Blackberry and Absolut.
My stance is – if you can take an advertisers money the absolute least you can do is offer up independent data to support your readership claims.
If you don’t do this, you are doing a disservice to the advertisers who allow you to keep paying your staff, keep the lights on and keep your business viable.
With the pressure and visibility around this issue now at a tipping point, real diligence around user numbers and engagement will move from being a minor inconvenience you can avoid, to being a mandatory if anyone in the marketing or media world is going to take you seriously.