Web-ad firms delay touting new standard

NEW YORK: Companies that provide online advertising technologies agreed on a standardized method for counting viewers last week. They also agreed not to promote their adoption of that method until 2005.

NEW YORK: Companies that provide online advertising technologies agreed on a standardized method for counting viewers last week. They also agreed not to promote their adoption of that method until 2005.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), along with multiple partners, has developed an industry standardization that ensures more accurate counts in the number of people viewing an online ad. It was designed to give advertisers, who might have been scared off do to disparate measurement issues, more comfort in accepting the statistics they receive regarding their advertisements.

But advertisers who want to know immediately if a company enabling online advertising is using the standardization will have to wait.

The non-promotion agreement was fostered in order to give companies time to implement the standardization and create a level competitive field, according to IAB president Greg Stuart.

"Everyone agreed not to talk about their individual status publicly until mid-next year," Stuart said. "To get everyone to say, 'We're going to set aside our self-interest for the greater good of the industry for the short term' is a big deal."

Thirty-five of the 37 major companies, called ad-serving technologies, have agreed in principle to the auditing standardization proposed by the IAB. They still do not have to follow the standardization and, if they adopt it, will not be able to send out press releases announcing adoption until that agreed-upon time.

Ad-serving technologies - companies that develop tools that advertisers and web publishers use to plan, execute, and analyze advertising programs - also benefit by reducing discrepancies and improving operational efficiencies.

Among the approved standardizations is that ads views will not be counted if the web browser is refreshed or switched before the advertisement can properly load.

Stuart estimated that the strategizing took 14 months to accomplish, on top of the initial work done two years ago.

The IAB announced the standardization yesterday by giving the Wall Street Journal the exclusive and has been working with the industry trades on stories.

It also put out a press release on Business Wire.

The project was initiated by the IAB and the American Association of Advertising Agencies, which Stuart said would be creating its own communications strategies to members.

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