The IPA and ISBA have dismissed current monitors of internet-user
data, and have launched JICNET, a body aimed at creating one industry
standard to measure and research web use.
At an IPA seminar examining accountability in new media last week , the
IPA's new director general, Hamish Pringle, launched JICNET alongside
prominent representatives from the new-media industry. He also used the
occasion to lambast internet publishers and media owners, which have
failed to sign up for official audits from ABC//electronic.
Pringle said: "It may sound obvious, but until now people have been
bandying around terms like 'hits' in the industry, which are
meaningless. Until clients have confidence in website traffic and user
data, this industry is not going to grow."
There are three major bodies that produce figures on internet usage:
MMXI Europe, Neilsen Netratings and Netvalue. According to the IPA, all
three bodies use different sample sizes, definitions and reporting
methods to collate their user data, and it is hoped that JICNET will
result in the consolidation of these different measures to create a
single yardstick for the industry.
Pringle said: "We have compared their sample sizes and research methods
and they are not comparable with each other. It's like having three
different sets of BARB data - how would you know how to buy and sell
It is not yet known what impact the development of a single standard
will have on the three audience measurement companies, but sources
suggest all three may be invited to pitch for the research project.
Alki Manias, the managing director of NetValue UK and Ireland, greeted
the scheme with caution and was dubious about its success. He said: "We
have invited our competitors to sit with us around a table and discuss
this, and it has not been greeted with a good response."
Pringle said: "Lets treat the internet in exactly the same way we've
treated press and TV. Yes, this is a new medium but the issues are the
same. We've been here before."