UPDATE: Advertising Meeting Bogged Down by Definition Debate

Ratings and census measurement dominated the internet industry advertising meeting held yesterday morning, although participants said the level of discussion was fairly rudimentary.

Two issues they appear to believe don't warrant any active investigation are WAP and streaming media. Plans to set up a sub-committee to examine these issues were shelved due to a lack of activity in the market, according to sources at the meeting.

Invited participants included online publishers like f2, News Interactive and ninemsn, portals like Yahoo, online media and marketing companies like BMCMedia, measurement companies like Red Sheriff and Media Metrix, and online media buyers like emitch.

Shefik Bey, vice president of Red Gauge, a division of web measurement company Red Sheriff, said people at the meeting struggled a bit over the issue of definitions.

One point of contention seems to be whether or not to adopt a single set of definitions, or to allow multiple definitions to exist in the market but to provide customers with a consistent way of comparing methodologies. "We don't want a unitary approach. The idea of making everyone use the same methodology is not really something we would agree with," Bey said.

The meeting drew between 30 and 40 of the leading lights in the local internet sector into Sydney's CBD.

Over the next few weeks two groups will meet separately to look at the issues of ratings and census, and issues around definitions within advertising measurement. They will then report back to the larger group in April.

BMCMedia founder Anthony Bertini also raised the issue of separating out Australian eyeballs in any measurement data, according to participants at the meeting. This is the issue of recording the number of people who visit a local site from overseas as opposed to local visitors, and who presumably are less valuable to local advertisers. Bertini could not be contacted by time of publication.

The reaction to Bertini's observation from the larger publishers like Fairfax, News and Ninemsn is not recorded, except for the somewhat droll comment by one source that they seemed unexcited at the prospect. Small wonder.

Liam Walsh, general manager at online buying house emitch, described Bertini's idea as an interesting point, "since some sites get half of their traffic from offshore. As far as I know we are the only people who specifically ask for Australian visitors on our order forms."

Postscript: The Industry Standard was excluded from the event because it was felt participants would be less likely to contribute openly in the debate if the press was present. Oddly enough, not one of the 15 delegates we button-holed in the lift with our digital camera and tape recorder agreed with the decision to lock out the media.

Courtesy the Australian Industry Standard: http://www.thestandard.com.au

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