The International Federation of Audit Bureaux of Circulations (IFABC) was founded in 1963, long before the advent of digital publications, and was set up to establish an international set of rules to standardise circulation measurement, providing the media industry with reliable data for print media on a global scale, enabling cross-country planning. However, despite its print roots, the IFABC was quick to recognise the digital shift 15 years ago and has been working to accommodate these changes in the media landscape.
The speed of change over the last few years has been rapid and unrelenting. The global media industry is now operating across multiple platforms and publishers are increasingly launching digital products and using boundary-less, digital platforms to publish content that stands alone, as well as replicating a traditional, printed edition. As the market for such products grows, so too does the need to monetise them. However, monetisation can be difficult if there is no way to prove the value of investing in the new digital platforms.
JICWEBS (The Joint Industry Committee for Web Standards in the UK and Ireland) was created by the UK and Ireland media industry to ensure independent development of standards for measuring performance online and benchmarking best practice for online ad trading. The IFABC has adopted many of the JICWEBS standard definitions to ensure global principles are maintained. The IFABC World Wide Web Standards Group (IFABC WWWSG) reviews the global metrics to ensure they remain relevant as they are used in markets around the globe.
GroupM reported that global digital advertising spend exceeded $98bn in 2012, a 16% year-on-year rise and a figure that represents approximately 19% of overall global ad spending. The trend is reflected across all established global markets. However, the digital world can be something of a minefield for advertising buyers who are wrestling with new challenges such as tracking advertising activity on multiple platforms, rights and fees, ad misplacement, and its complexity in general.
Agencies and publishers want to be able to navigate the sweeping digital industry changes that are occurring almost continuously. Advertisers also want to be able to document usage and performance on a global scale, and therefore global metrics need to be established. Media owners also need an internationally recognised set of guidelines against which to measure the success of their brands. The IFABC WWWSG has already delivered agreed metrics covering everything from page impressions to email delivery. At the group’s last meeting, it agreed app and video metric definitions that underpin the results from the key global and local analytics tools. This provides global standards for local markets which are built on as required by those local markets.
The IFABC has also established a Digital Publications Standards Committee (DPSC), the objective of which is to establish a set of global measurement guidelines. Once the guidelines are agreed and issued they will be considered a starting point from which all IFABC members should begin. Each international member bureau will be able to add their own rules beyond the suggested guidelines. The Committee is also meeting with global digital publishing platforms to try to standardise the way metrics are reported to the ABCs. To ensure IFABC remains relevant in the evolving digital age, the DPSC will continue to meet to oversee the development of the guidelines as the medium continues to transform itself.
By Jerry Wright, president, IFABC & chief executive, ABC UK