IAB Calls for New and Useless Standards
The Inernet Advertising Bureau (IAB) has asked leading Internet metrics providers comScore, Inc. and Nielsen/NetRatings to "submit to a third-party audit of their measurement processes." The IAB is hoping to update what they coniseder out-of-date methods of counting and quantifying Intenet user statistics from audience panels and consumer polls and studies.
In response to the request, comScore relased a statement, "comScore welcomes the objective outlined in the IAB open letter of achieving transparency in our panel methods. To that end, we began working with the MRC [Media Rating Council] several months ago as part of an audit of our methodologies. We intend to continue that effort. And we're also in the final stages of an evaluation of our methodologies by the Advertising Research Foundation. We're confident that our methodologies will withstand the scrutiny of third-party evaluation." In other words, we're doing our own thing - stay out of it.
Nielsen/NetRatings did not respond.
One of the points in question, from comScore's point of view, is that cookies are overstated in their measure of Internet traffic. Many users delete cookies from their browsers quite often, rendering that measure almost entirely useless.
But, the real problem is relying on any of these measures at all. The Internet is such a fluid industry and marketplace, that getting an accurate, rock-solid picture of what is happening on any given day, week or month is nearly impossible. Standards can be placed, but a standard becomes useless whenever new methods of advertising, new browser tools and higher user acumen come into play - deleting cookies, for example.
Smart marketers and advertisers take comScore and Nielsen/NetRatings for what they really are - good samples of user behavior. They provide an overall picture, or "feel" of what's happening on the 'Net - not a definitive measure of billions of Internet users.