IAB Issues Ad Guidelines

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NEW YORK--Is it any wonder online advertising has been such a tough sell?


More than seven years after the first banner appeared on Wired magazine's HotWired.com in October 1994, trade group Interactive Advertising Bureau released advertising guidelines yesterday defining, among other things, the online ad impression.


"These are the first industry-wide measurement guidelines ever developed," said Greg Stuart, president of the IAB, at a press conference here to unveil them.


The lack of accurate and reliable measurement information has been consistently cited as one of the top reasons why those in a position to do so don't buy more interactive advertising.


The guidelines -- developed after a six-month study by PricewaterhouseCoopers -- identify and define five key metrics: ad impressions, clicks, visits, unique visitors, and page impressions.


The question is whether the industry will adopt them.


The IAB claims its members represent more than 70 percent of the advertising sold online.


DoubleClick -- contacted after the press conference -- said it already supports most of what is contained in the guidelines.


"DoubleClick has already done a lot of the things that these standards involve," said Scott Spencer, director of product management, DART for Publishers. "So for us the transition to these particular guidelines is very minimal."


Among the benefits of the guidelines will be to reduce the time and cost of online buying and reporting, and to reduce discrepancies between third-party ad servers and site servers, Stuart said.


"We also hope these guidelines help build confidence for advertisers in interactive media," he said citing industry analyst projections that interactive ad spending will grow from $7.5 billion currently to $20 billion in 2005.


"The issues were consistency and disclosure," Stuart said. "Now there's a basis on which a publisher or a third-party advertiser can say 'here is what we use and it meets the guidelines or it doesn't meet it,'" he said.


The Advertising Research Foundation, ABC Interactive and the Media Rating Council also participated in developing the guidelines. The American Association of Advertising Agencies and the Association of National Advertisers have come out in support of them.


The guidelines are available on www.IAB.net.


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