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Still seeking Web statistics arbiter

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Back in November 2006, I wrote the following: “Today there is no single source to go to verify publishers' Web audience numbers. This makes our reporting and rankings at Media Business difficult. What's worse, it makes it difficult for advertisers to choose where to spend their online marketing budgets, if they want objective data. “The national panels done by comScore Media Metrix and Nielsen//Net---Ratings are not considered accurate by b-to-b media companies with Web sites, if they are even large enough to be measured by them. ... “It's ironic that such a medium as online, which is all about measurement, is actually not audited as well as its counterparts in print, and that all the readily available data from Web sites are not verified by a third party, one without a vested interest in the results. Yes, BPA and ABC have done some auditing, but there is no current standard for Web measurement and now advertisers are starting to ask why. ... “We need reliable, third-party data in order to accurately rank Web site "readership.' In order for advertisers to choose the sites they deem leaders in a niche, they need to see data as well.” Nearly a year and a half later, virtually nothing has changed. I know it's not an easy task, but even if it's just for b-to-b Web sites, we need one reliable standard for reporting. While it's not essential—since ads are mostly bought on CPM not on total audience CPM—it's still an important tool for advertisers to have to evaluate site importance. I hope that this situation changes soon! Bob Felsenthal can be reached at bfelsenthal@crain.com.
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