Can standards cross online channels?

The online industry is rife with associations and best practice groups. Our experts look at where the digital age is at in terms of collaboration across the industry, and with the government, when it comes to standards.


Robbin Steif

CEO of LunaMetrics and director for mar­keting and research of Web Analytics Association (WAA)

23 years’ experience

Standards and best practices around Web analytics absolutely apply to digital marketing as a whole. Jodi McDermott, co-chair of the social media and standards committee at the WAA, said, “Web analytics allows you to look at every channel that is coming into your organization — SEM, SEO, display advertising, widgets, etc. — and compare them side by side.”

In April the WAA and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) announced their intention to work more closely together to increase consistency and clarity around Web metrics standards. The WAA is trying to provide a similar nomenclature across analytic tools. Standards produced by the IAB are focused on accounting for the advertis­ing transaction between the advertiser and the publisher. The goal of having standard terminology is to empower the Web analyst and the executives around him or her and to the extent that that improves marketing.

The government tends to understand online technology in narrow, important slices, such as the need for the individual to have privacy. But there is a flip side to that — the need for the individual to be served the right content at the right time. So as an organization, we try to self-regulate and address all these needs. If the National Institute of Standards and Technology or parallel organiza­tions in other countries are interested in talking, we’ll be at the table.


Jeanniey Mullen

Executive chairwom­an of the EEC

Former executive director and senior partner at OgilvyOne Worldwide

Some standards in e-mail market­ing apply to all types of online digital advertising: maintaining personal rel­evance in messaging, integrating efforts with search campaigns and ensuring readability in a mobile environment.

The need for size and format stan­dards has become more important with the rising adoption rates of handheld devices. E-mail that looks beautiful in an inbox setting is no longer enough.

E-mail marketers are victims of larger e-mail delivery issues, such as spam and phishing, that the government regulates. These annoy consumers and cause billion of dollars in server and systems management to filter. The government needs to own this problem and eliminate and punish lawbreakers.

E-mail marketers do not need to be concerned with stopping unwanted vol­umes of messaging; however, they do need to identify, determine, document and share best practices for legitimate message to make it through.

Membership in an industry best prac­tices association should give marketers some benefit, but should not provide blanket approvals unless a training and compliance program is put into place. The EEC was founded as a com­munity for marketers to share stories and collectively build best practices. But that being said, our mission does not guarantee our subscribers and members will follow these guidelines all of the time.


Mullen and Steif each cite examples of overlapping interests that their associations have; for example, best practices in relevance and common ground in terminology. Where they differed was looking at government involvement — for e-mail, government regulation is often at the forefront, while analytic data collection is just starting to see government involvement.

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