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IAB to Measurement Agencies: Measure Up!

By - April 20, 2007

Iab

(Caveat: I am an IAB Board member, and Comscore is an FM partner)

Today the IAB released a strongly worded – for an industry coalition, anyway – letter asking that the twin pillars of measurement in the interactive advertising universe – Neilsen and Comscore – submit to audits of how they measure, and in general work with the IAB to better measure interactive audiences. This marks the first public move by new IAB CEO Randall Rothenberg, and it’s sure to get some attention.

I’m both pleased with this move and hopeful that the response will be positive. I am a big fan of the folks at Comscore and we are working together diligently to come up with better measurement of the conversational media arena. But that’s just one piece of a larger puzzle. We can and should do better.

From the IAB release:



The goal of the IAB and the entire Interactive industry is simple: to achieve transparency in audience counts and to revise out-of-date methodologies.

For the Interactive industry, one that is committed to delivering accountability, integrity in audience measurement is a fundamental necessity. But, despite a multiplicity of reported discrepancies in audience measurements, comScore and NNR each has resisted numerous requests for audits by the IAB and the Media Ratings Council since 1999.

In order to establish the source of these discrepancies, and to find the potential solutions, the IAB is asking that both comScore and NNR obtain audits of their technologies and processes by the Media Rating Council (MRC).

The discrepancies exist between the audience measurements of comScore and NNR and those of the server logs of the IAB’s own members. Further compounding these differences are the disparities between comScore’s and NNR’s own measurement results. All measurement companies that report audience metrics have a material impact on interactive marketing and decision-making. Therefore, transparency into these methodologies is critical to maintaining advertisers’ confidence in interactive, particularly now, as marketers allocate more budget to the platform.

Without these audits, the industry has no way of knowing whether these deviations in measurement result from inconsistent counting or from outdated measurement methodologies, such as the panels developed in the 1930s and still relied on today.

Full text of the letter is in the jump….

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Database of Intentions, Round Two

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Web History

First there was search history. Then a ton of widgets and apps to help you as you, well, stumble around the web. Now Google, as I expected, has launched Web History. In other words, the rest of what you do online. This whole trend needs a name. Wait, OK, my name for it is the Database of Intentions. But the issue, the nub, the rub, the trade off between privacy, data, and benefits – that also needs a catchy name. Google gets better the more data it has about everything. It also gets scarier.

I asked Eric about this in our conversation and he was quite clear – Google will support data portability and transparency. I am thrilled to hear it. It’s a non trivial thing to do. But it’s essential, as Eric pointed out, to Google’s brand that it be trusted.

From Google’s Blog post:

Today, we’re pleased to announce the launch of Web History, a new feature for Google Account users that makes it easy to view and search across the pages you’ve visited. If you remember seeing something online, you’ll be able to find it faster and from any computer with Web History. Web History lets you look back in time, revisit the sites you’ve browsed, and search over the full text of pages you’ve seen. It’s your slice of the web, at your fingertips.

How does Web History work? All you need is a Google Account and the Google Toolbar with PageRank enabled.

Does the idea of Google knowing everywhere you go on the web scare you? Or does it thrill you? It does both for me.

Again, I ask these questions: do we need a data Switzerland? Or at the very least, do we need a data Bill of Rights?

Google – Click Privacy Kerfluffle

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Cnet has the details:

Three public-interest groups are expected to file a joint complaint on Friday with the Federal Trade Commission calling for an investigation into the potential threat to consumer privacy posed by Google’s planned acquisition of DoubleClick.

The Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), along with the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) and the U.S. Public Interest Research Groups (U.S. PIRG), are asking the FTC to stop the $3.1 billion merger until the trade commission investigates Google’s data collection and storage practices, orders DoubleClick to sweep out its data storehouse and requires the search giant to offer a public plan for safeguarding consumer privacy.

More on My Feed (Non) Experiment

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Feed Image

Well, despite several supporting voices, it’s clear a large percentage of you, at least those who commented, would be quite unhappy if I turned my feed into excerpts. I hear you.

There were several good points and questions. First, yes, my feed does have ads, from Feedburner, an FM and Searchblog partner. But Feedburner does not approach marketing the way FM does, and while we are great partners, the marketers that FM works with are less interested in feeds and more in site-specific advertising. That’s not to say Feedburner’s approach is less valuable, not at all. It’s just that on the site, brand marketers can do far more, and to be honest, many are more comfortable in that environment in terms of execution and such. FB sells categories and scale, FM sells specific sites, conversational marketing, and integrated programs. Both work, and most marketers do both.

Many of you noted that you’ll click through from a full text feed and that drives a lot of site traffic. That’s entirely true. The experiment was an attempt to see if excerpts would drive significantly more, while not alienating my readership. From the results of my very unscientific poll, I’d clearly be alienating at least a very vocal minority.

I’m not eager to do that. It’s why I asked in the first place, after all. I may try this as an experiment in any case (or an A/B test, if I can find the time to set it up!), and those of you who swore you’d delete my feed – gimme a chance to learn something!

If I don’t do that, I have another idea I might try….

Update on DoubleClick and Google

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Dbclk-1

When I interviewed Eric, several of you wondered why I didn’t ask these two questions:

1.Will Google make Doubleclick free?

2. Several sources have told me that Google has built and tested a Doubleclick like platform, then decided to buy the company anyway. True, false, or no comment?

Well, I ran out of time, and we had a lot to cover. So I asked the folks at Google if they could respond, and they have. Here you go:

1. At this time we will continue to operate DoubleClick’s services as they have been operated in the past. They have a proven and successful business model and we don’t have immediate plans to change it.

2. We are always exploring technology solutions that solve user, advertiser and publisher issues. Currently our plan is to work w/DoubleClick to continue to support its existing customers and to develop more advanced versions of its current services that will ultimately benefit users and advertisers and publishers of all sizes.

Thanks, Google!

Yahoo Sued in Nor Cal For Chinese Human Rights Abuse

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Ouch. From the story:

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – A Chinese couple sued Yahoo and its Chinese affiliates on Wednesday, alleging the Internet firms provided information that helped the Chinese government prosecute the man for his Internet writings.

Wang Xiaoning was sentenced to ten years in prison last year for “incitement to subvert state power” after he e-mailed electronic journals advocating democratic reform and a multi-party system.

Should I Test This?

By - April 18, 2007

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From the start, Searchblog has had a full text feed. I took my cue from my pals at Boing Boing – I believed in fully portable content, and I also believed in portable business models. But it’s been two years since I started FM, and I have to say, the most important and valuable business model for a site like Searchblog remains bringing your attention to my site, where I can introduce you to marketers who buy ads there.

I know that folks, particularly our partners Feedburner, argue that feeds themselves should be monetizable (Lord, what a word). But the reality is, they are not nearly as valuable to a publisher, at present, as visitors to the site are. “We’ve seen no evidence that excerpts on their own drive higher clickthroughs,” Feedburner posted recently.

Well, I’d like to test that assertion.

Now, I’m a practical guy. So, I figure, are most of you. I’m thinking of shifting my feed from full text to excerpts, for a week or a month, and seeing how pissed, or not, all of you get, and seeing if traffic increases to the site over time. There’s nearly 70,000 of you now who read this feed. Some of you read excerpts because you’re in crippled readers (ahem, MyYahoo). But many others read, like I do, in full text readers. I’m not switching sides here. I’m just curious.

Consider the comments section your chance to tell me what you think….

PS – I’m also very open to other approaches, like adding sponsors to the feed myself – the sponsors who buy on the site, that is.

After all, they want to reach you…not me!

Query? Who Needs A Query?

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Not us. Not with Google. SEL has a good overview of Google’s news (referenced in the last post):

Google is rolling out two features today that subtly but meaningfully enhance the level of personalization offered to anyone with a Google account. And while they’re tied to your search behavior, they don’t directly alter the standard search results you see, even if you’ve enabled personalization by searching while signed in to Google account.

The first feature allows you to add a “recommendations” tab to a Google personalized home page….The second feature is a new button for the Google Toolbar called “picks for you.” Clicking this button displays one of 50 new sites every day, chosen for you based on your search history and what others have searched for. Clicking the button successively displays each new pick in turn.

This is remarkably similar to the “Stumble” button on the StumbleUpon toolbar.

Uh huh.



Look guys. Let’s not fools ourselves here. This timing is not coincidental. It rarely is.

But, I like where this is going, regardless of the temporary politics of acquisition. Let’s push the search interface as far as it can go. It means one thing – the faster we go, the sooner the next Google breaks out….