Online industry unveils ad measuring system

The interactive advertising industry is to launch a worldwide standard for measuring the number of online ads delivered – the first time any advertising medium has had a single, global standard for measuring impact.

The biggest problem in the past has been that those involved in the delivery process – content owners and publishers, portals, interactive agencies, ad serving companies (the companies that handle the software and hardware often used to deliver the ads) and clients – used different ways of counting “opportunities to see” online ads.

Richard Foan, managing director of ABC Electronic (the online measuring arm of the UK’s Audit Bureau of Circulations), says: “There were different measurement systems, all measuring slightly different things at slightly different points in the supply chain.”

Foan adds that the new standards – which include clear definitions about what an ad impression is and instructions on how and when it should be counted – should mean that figures are comparable between publishers and portals and across borders, creating a common international measuring currency for clients and agencies. He says: “These standards are about ensuring that the systems have a common approach, and that those systems are regularly checked, rather than about the absolute audience numbers.”

There have also been problems in the past with automated systems – for example, Web spiders, the software used by search engines to catalogue what is on Web pages – being inadvertently included in traffic numbers, and with how ads which are cached (stored locally in an internet service provider’s system to speed up delivery to end users) are recorded. Again, the new standards set strict guidelines.

ABC Electronic, the Interactive Advertising Bureau UK and others have worked as part of JICWEBS (Joint Industry Committee for Web Standards) on these standards for seven years now: they build on measurement systems introduced by ABC Electronic in 1996.

Almost all of the major online publishers and ad server companies have now come on board, as have more than a dozen international IAB offices, the World Association of Research Professionals, and the World Federation of Advertisers, as well as a range of other groups.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here