Richard Foan is director of innovation and communication at the UK Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) and here he argues that official auditing is essential as we move to a digital publishing landscape.
Engaging with digital is now a way of life for us all. Tablet and other mobile technologies continue to develop and as consumers we are never far away from accessing the internetuse. Digital should be the most accountable medium for advertising and publishing industries, but there is a plethora of data presented in the marketplace with some arguing that much of it goes unused because they don’t know what to trust.
In reality there is a lack of agreement on what reliable online data looks like. However, industry standards do currently exist to provide a benchmark for data and the next step for the industry is encouraging the wide-spread adoption of these standards, something that we are already see starting to happen.
All media owners use analytics to track and present their performance, but there are a couple of key questions media buyers can use to move towards accountability in digital:
– Have you discounted spiders, robots and internal traffic from your figures?
– Is your data up to the industry standard benchmark?
If the answer to either is no, media buyers can’t be sure of the data they are relying on to make their online advertising decisions. The trick for auditor is to find a balance between the reliability of the information provided and the timely delivery of such data. That is why the launch of webBase was an important step for us and for the industry. The new scheme works with an analytics partner capable of delivering data to industry agreed standards.
The new methodology runs with a continuous daily delivery of data from one of our partners, rather than looking back in time over monthly data. This means that publishers are able to show their online brand reach on one certificate and buyers and planners get regular data more quickly, which in the online environment is essential.
Real-time advertising questions
Sitting alongside the need for credible, comparable and timely numbers is a developing real-time advertising ecosystem. This will require a completely different approach to accountability
And this brings more complex challenges for auditors too. Millions of impressions are being traded individually in real time which means that multiple data sources, both first and third party, have to be considered to ensure the best match is made. It’s an exciting opportunity for advertisers, but it brings some inherent risks in terms of the quality of the inventory traded.
Advertisers need to trust the quality of the data used, the ability of the technology to do what it says it does, and the appropriateness of the final destination where the ad impression is served.