Top Brands Push for Audited Metrics

NEW YORK Several leading advertisers today said they would insist Web publishers provide audited metrics in a year’s time.

Colgate-Palmolive, Ford, Hewlett-Packard, Pepsi, Visa and others said they would only pay Internet sites for ad-impression counts that are audited by a third party, such as PricewaterhouseCoopers or Ernst & Young, beginning in mid-2007. By 2008, they would require publishers to have a third party certify that their processes for measuring impressions are “consistent and reliable.”

The move is intended to push Web sites to adopt uniform standard for evaluating how many people see an ad.

Most brand advertising online is sold per thousand impressions. In the past, advertisers and publishers have disagreed over what constitutes an impression. The Interactive Advertising Bureau in November 2004 set up ad-impression guidelines, but it is unclear how widely these have been followed.

“As more dollars migrate over to interactive, it is imperative as an industry that we continue to strive for the highest levels of transparency and validity,” said Greg Stuart, CEO of the IAB, in a statement. “We are confident this is just the beginning and other leading marketers will join this group.”

According to the IAB, top publishers like AOL, Yahoo and Weather.com already comply with their requirements. Ad servers DoubleClick and Atlas are also audited and certified, the IAB said.

The IAB has also begun standardizing definitions for broadband video and pay-per-click advertising. In May, it released guidelines for counting Web video commercials. Last week, it set up a working group to begin developing guidelines for when an advertiser is billed for a click.