Interactive Advertising Bureau CEO on click fraud in 'Real Deal' exclusive interview

Interactive Advertising Bureau CEO on click fraud in 'Real Deal' exclusive interview

Summary: Greg Stuart is the CEO & President of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), the leading association for the interactive advertising and marketing industry. The IAB represents over 250 companies responsible for selling over 86% of online advertising in the United States, including AOL, CNET, Google, MSN, Walt Disney Internet Group, Yahoo!

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Greg Stuart is the CEO & President of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), the leading association for the interactive advertising and marketing industry. The IAB represents over 250 companies responsible for selling over 86% of online advertising in the United States, including AOL, CNET, Google, MSN, Walt Disney Internet Group, Yahoo! and other interactive leaders.

Stuart has been heading the IAB since November 2001 and during his tenure the industry has grown from $6 billion to $16 billion in advertising revenue.

I spoke with Stuart at length this afternoon about the IAB’s announcement last August that it formed an industry-wide “Click Measurement Working Group.” According to the IAB announcement:

Industry-wide Click Measurement Working Group to create a set of Click Measurement Guidelines. These Guidelines, a joint effort with the Media Rating Council (MRC), will provide the detailed definition of a "click" and the standard against which clicks are measured and counted including the identification of invalid clicks and/or fraudulent clicks.

Member companies who have confirmed their participation in this Working Group thus far include: Ask.com, Google, LookSmart, Microsoft Corp., Yahoo!, and others.

The IAB is steadfast in its commitment to the principles of transparency and industry oversight for the measurement of any aspect of Interactive media. The Click Measurement Guidelines will also outline an industry driven auditing and certification recommendation for any organization involved in performance based marketing like search engines, ad networks, third party ad servers or any company that counts clicks as a part of the media currency. These guidelines are part of the broader Global Ad Impression Guidelines that were launched in 2004 and follow the recent release of the Broadband Measurement Guidelines.

Below are my “Real Deal" questions” and Stuart’s responses in italics (responses may be slightly paraphrased).

1) The fundamental mission of the IAB is to help the interactive advertising industry increase its revenues by developing standards and research and by engaging in advocacy and education. While all four IAB spheres of action aim at increasing the share of advertising and marketing dollars that Interactive media captures in the marketplace, which is most critical to building advertiser confidence in interactive advertising spends?

All play a role in making an industry work. We help agencies so they can make money from this business. Education is very important.  Standards provide fluidity in the marketplace and make it easier for agencies to buy.

Agencies need to make a profit and standards help by reducing workload. Five years ago, agencies struggled, they had to call twenty different publishers, each with different ad units, now Universal Ad Package provides a set of four standard ad sizes.
2 ) In announcing the joint IAB-Media Rating Council (MRC) industry-wide Click Measurement Working Group aimed at creating a set of Click Measurement Guidelines you said: “"These guidelines demonstrate our continued commitment to being the most accountable advertising medium and providing marketers with the highest possible level of transparency." What additional accountability and transparency will marketers gain once the Click Measurement Guidelines are created? 

It remains to be seen, the last time we created standards, Impression Guidelines, it was unclear before what was being measured, what was meant by the measurements.

TV measurement, for example, said two things, 1) that the TV was on and 2) that the TV was tuned to a certain channel for a certain amount of time. No one knew, however, if anyone was in the room watching the TV, additional research was required for that.

So the Impression Guidelines documents that an impression is measured at the point that the browser receives the ad. Everyone agrees it is a better measurement standard. The counts may be lower, but they are more accurate, more strategic.

Click Measurement Guidelines will provide consistency in measurement. When you pay for a click you will know you are paying for the same damn thing wherever you buy it. Now, there is no ability for that, without the guidelines

 

The goal is to have plus or minus 5% to 10% difference in the way that systems count impressions and clicks.

 

3) The Click Measurement Guidelines will also outline an industry driven auditing and certification recommendation, according to the IAB press release announcing the Click Measurement Guidelines workgroup. The IAB has indicated that independent auditing against the complete guidelines should provide advertisers with added security for their internet advertising investment. Are IAB member organization independent audits against the complete guidelines essential for meaningful implementations of the Click Measurement Guidelines?

The group has not formerly endorsed audits yet, but audits are likely. The group signed off on the press release.

Yes, audits are essential. The work we do serves two purposes: 1) provide technical understanding so we can make judgments about data and 2) a psychological or comfort factor, for more details to deal with the perceptual problem.

The IAB is a strong believer that anyone that can impact revenues should have transparent measurement guidelines with an auditing and certification process.

Agencies and marketers are important to the process, they have to let their providers know about their needs as customers, about needs for auditing and certification.

There is some sort of auditing process in place for all media.

4) The MRC accredits audience rating services by auditing their audience measurement for compliance with MRC standards. Media Rating services awarded MRC Accreditation are given permission to display the MRC’s logo on their audited research product. Will the Click Measurement Guidelines include a mechanism for accreditation for those organizations which submit to the industry driven auditing and certification guidelines?

The MRC audits the auditor, provides industry oversight and certification from another party, in an economical way.

For example, Nielsen is audited by Ernst & Young, which is then overseen by the MRC. MRC provides industry oversight to what Ernst & Young is doing, there is another layer in the system to prevent gaming.

There will be some vehicle to identify certification.

5) What is the timeframe for publication of the IAB Click Measurement Guidelines and auditing and certification recommendations. 

Impressions Guidelines took 14 months. We’ve already had meetings for the Click Measurement Guidelines, we don’t know all the issues until we do the work.

6) Has the IAB quantified the impact of click fraud on advertiser spends? 

It could be one of the exercises we do.

THANKS GREG!

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