AMAA: It's not Nielsen, it's us

By Brendan Coyne | 10 May 2013

It's nothing against Nielsen, just that online publishing today is very different from 2009. That's why the Audited Media Association of Australia is looking elsewhere, according to CEO Paul Dovas. That could mean five different providers for its new web audit service. Dovas told AdNews that the market has moved on and it is time to "focus on the metrics that are important to our users."

"We have a very diverse membership," said Dovas, and one size does not fit all. Four years is a long time in digital publishing. So tendering the account that Nielsen has held for four years will give members large and small the metrics that suit their needs." Note to providers: You have until 24 May to submit your pitch.

The aim is to move beyond monthly uniques and "get away from the issues they are plagued with," said Dovas. For example, unique browser metrics, reliant on cookies, can count the same people "more than once, therefore figures can be abnormally high", he said. The new system may also use page impressions, average daily unique browsers, unique device numbers and more. And Nielsen could still be one of the providers.

But it will be an iterative process. The initial new system should be in play by the end of June and will definitely include page impressions, said Dovas. The rest will be added over time, with unique devices slated for September. The latter is important because it means publishers can prove an ad has been generated, thereby "guaranteeing that the inventory the advertiser is buying actually exists," Dovas explained.

Audience measurement and viewable impressions could also form part of the mix.

So potentially five different providers.  More expensive, right? Wrong said Dovas. "There's scope to manage existing costs if not make it slightly cheaper."

Doesn't so many metrics create a risk of muddying the waters of comparability? "It's about offering a suite of metrics so publishers can chose a set that suits their business model. Fragmentation is very challenging for everybody. The concept of a single suit of metrics for all is equally challenging."

What about viewability. Isn't that a bit wishy-washy (given that in the US the standard seems to be viewability counts an ad as viewed if it is 50% loaded for 1 second)?

"Nobody is really there yet," said Dovas. "But globally, it has been made very clear [by international circulation bodies] that viewability is very important."

Dovas would not say more on viewability but the consensus view is that industry has to start somewhere; monthly unique browsers are not a perfect metric and yet have been used for 15 years.

Dovas though did hint that the AAMA, once the admin and legals of merging the old Audit Bureaux of Australia and the Circulations Audit Board are out of the way, might then turn its attention to areas such as mobile and video. Then there are exhibitions to look at. Then e-commerce.  Then there is helping Australian publishers expose themselves to international eyeballs.

But first, there's the small matter of getting a new web audit system together.

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