The row over whether online needs an industry-wide measurement tool took a new twist this week when it emerged the Internet Advertising Bureau is developing its own research to measure engagement.
The IAB has sent requests to a number of research companies, asking them to submit proposals for a project similar to the Millward Brown Awareness Index, which measures the success of traditional media campaigns, especially TV.
The IPA, meanwhile, is pushing strongly for a pre-planning measurement tool, such as Barb or the National Readership Survey, which will compare directly with those used in traditional media.
Speaking about the IAB's project, Hamish Pringle, the director-general of the IPA, said: "Once you have got the customer-centric data, then you can go on and look at things such as awareness. This is missing out the first step. Any initiative that is not focused on customer-centric research is likely to be seen as a smokescreen."
Guy Phillipson, the chief executive of the IAB, said the project was only in its early stages and was an entirely separate project from that being advocated by the IPA.
"The internet is the ultimate medium for engagement, so the hypothesis is that we could measure how engaging a campaign has been and a company could use those results," Phillipson said. "It is a complex thing to do, though, and no launch is imminent."
Patrick Rona, the vice-president, director of marketing at Modem Media, one of the agencies behind the awareness research, said: "We lack an industry standard metric of success that is recognised and valued in the boardroom. This would enable us to look at different consumer behaviour and bring it together to form one standard index."
The IAB is understood to have committed to contribute to fund the initial stages of the project, although Phillipson said it was too early to say where funding would come from for the entire venture.
The traditional barrier to the launch of a pre-planning measurement tool has been funding. US-based internet media owners such as Yahoo! and MSN do not fund measurement tools for the US market and therefore do not see the merit in doing so in the UK.
- Close-up, page 19.