Time is running out for Australian web cowboys

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.


3 responses to “Time is running out for Australian web cowboys

  1. Nice one Ben, important one this. What’s the impact been advertising wise in the last 3 months? Minimal I assume.



  2. Ben, how many different ways can you and the puppet master write a blog to push the sound alliance’s agenda?

    First it was Fairfax and the vine, when they starting taking revenue from SA. Then it was Guvera and now back to the top 5 and sites in “a similar space to you”- i.e your direct competitors.

    As for belittling the cost concerns of other publishers. Please note- not all publishers scored a few mil in investment ( under the promise of a big buy out down the track- that is if there is anyone else left to buy SA that you all haven’t bagged out over the years!) to burn away for the last few years.

    I used to enjoy reading your blog Ben and found it very insightful and appreciated the balanced approach. Not any more, but i am sure you wont be too bothered about me not coming back!

  3. talkingdigital

    Hi “Peter” – not sure what you mean by pushing the sound alliance agenda and “the puppet master” … I can honestly say over the 2+ years I’ve had the blog the content has remained the same so I disagree it has changed since I started at Sound Alliance. If you’re going to take personal shots at me at least use your real name … I’m glad you used to enjoy reading the blog (must have been doing something right) and would like to know what has changed so much in the past 10 posts that means you won’t be coming back.

    This blog has nothing to do with SA … but of course there’s going to be issues we face in the business that I am going to want to write about … that’s why I joined as I thought I could do something to change them. Re Auto-Refresh and auditing … there’s a lot of other people concerned about the issue including very large media buying agencies and a lot of prominent advertisers – so it’s not just me banging my drum anymore.

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