Why global online metrics matter

One of the things that has appealed to advertisers about the internet since the first dotcom boom has been its global scope. It allows them to communicate with markets around the world as easily as they previously could their domestic audiences. And as we see TV, radio and mobile all using the internet as the medium to reach a worldwide audience, the importance of the internet as a global medium will only grow. But as an advertiser, how do you assess reach across continents?

In a world of increasingly fragmented audiences and segmented media habits, census information becomes key for planning communication, as it is able to identify traffic across geographical regions at an individual unique browser level. Equally important is that advertisers have a universally recognised set of principles to work with, underpinned by local verification that these principles have been met. That means advertisers, agencies and media owners can be confident that they are basing their commercial decisions on sound data that meets an internationally recognised benchmark of transparency.

This means global standards for local markets; a consistent set of underlying global metrics which allow local markets to develop the measurement tools they need and to mature at their own pace. The International Federation of Audit Bureau of Circulations World Wide Web Standards Group reviews these global metrics every year to make sure they remain relevant to the people spending money on online advertising. It has already produced metrics covering everything from page impressions to email delivery, and at the last meeting agreed app and video metric definitions.

What’s important is that this work is done with a sense of realism, rather than idealism. The ideal in digital measurement is total transparency. At the other end of the spectrum is the Wild West approach, where everybody does what they want with no checking and no transparency. Realism means making sure the fundamental building blocks for online measurement are in place to allow advertisers to tell their stories around the world, while still recognising the needs of individual markets and remaining independent of individual technology suppliers. Those building blocks are universally available global standards.

I will be attending the IFABC European meeting in Stockholm on the 9th May. www.ifabc.org

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