Online publishers strike deal to provide audited ad figures

Britain’s leading online publishers are to provide audited advertising revenue figures to generate the first accurate measure of the size of the British online ad market.

Twenty-eight online publishers and sales points agreed to push ahead with the plan at last week’s meeting of the Interactive Advertising Group, hosted by Channel 4’s business development manager Mark Lesbirel.

“The intention of the IAG is to appoint an auditor for the provision of ad revenue figures for the UK market,” says Lesbirel.

Tom Bowman, head of ad sales at Microsoft-owned online service provider MSN, welcomes the move to establish accurate ad revenue figures for the industry.

“KPMG did a good survey, estimating ad revenue this year would be about 4m,” he says. “If we could all hand over financial data to a trusted third party, an audited figure may show whether that was a vast under- or over-estimate. But the main point is that we get figures that are accurate, rather than guessed at, which shows the dynamic of growth in the market.”

The group will consider whether to arrange its own auditing system or “piggyback” on the existing arrangement with its US counterpart body IAB, which has hired Coopers & Lybrand to audit industry-wide ad revenues.

Bowman says: “The IAB published ad revenue figures for US sites for the second quarter of 1997 of $214m (130m), 313 per cent up on the same quarter the previous year, and 66 per cent up on the first quarter.

“Because the figures are audited, the marketing industry believes them. And the rapid growth in revenues show it’s a medium which ad agencies cannot afford to ignore.”

The 25 companies also agreed to pay 1,000 subscriptions each to underwrite the hiring of a secretary.

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