IAB Challenges Online Measurement Firms

    April 23, 2007

The Interactive Advertising Bureau is challenging two top online measurement firms comScore, Inc and Nielsen//NetRatings to agree to a third-party audit of their measurement processes.

The IAB is seeking transparency in audience counts and wants to revise out of date measuring techniques. There have been numerous discrepancies reported in audience measurements, but comScore and NNR have resisted several requests for audits by the IAB and the Media Ratings Council since 1999.

To find the origin of the discrepancies and to offer solutions, the IAB is asking both comScore and the NNR to receive audits of their processes and technologies by the Media Rating Council (MRC).

The discrepancies exist between the audience measurements of comScore and NNR and the server logs of the IAB’s own members. There are also disparities between comScore’s and NNR’s own measurement results. Transparency surrounding the methodologies is important in maintaining advertiser’s confidence.

The audits would provide the industry with a way to examine the root cause of the data discrepancies whether it’s from inconsistent counting or outdated measurement methodologies.

"To persist in using panels that potentially undercount or ignore the diverse populations that are the future of consumer marketing is to deny marketers the insights they need to build their businesses," writes IAB President and CEO Randall Rothenberg in an open letter to Magid M. Abraham, the President and CEO of comScore, Inc., and William Pulver, the President and CEO Nielsen//NetRatings.

"And it certainly appears to us as if these audiences are being undercounted or disregarded."

Media companies have questioned the discrepancies between their own log files and panel companies’ findings of Web traffic.

Independently audited methodologies and numbers, Mr. Rothenberg writes, "would let marketers eliminate waste, media companies realize a fair price, and advertising agencies target audiences and analyze their campaigns more effectively."