Nielsen, ComScore Respond to IAB's Push for Auditing

Answer Open Letter From President-CEO Randall Rothenberg

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SAN FRANCISCO (AdAge.com) -- Nielsen NetRatings and ComScore today both responded to the Interactive Advertising Bureau's plea for audited, accredited web-audience measurement.
The audience-measurement firms took issue with the IAB's letter last week.
The audience-measurement firms took issue with the IAB's letter last week.

Randall Rothenberg, the new president-CEO if the IAB, sent a letter last week to both companies imploring them to submit to auditing and move toward accreditation by the Media Ratings Council, which audits measurement services for other media, including Nielsen's TV ratings and Arbitron's radio ratings. The IAB also suggested the companies explore advances in measurement that could move the process from a panel-based system to a census-based system.

'Surprised by your comment'
NetRatings CEO William Pulver said his company was the only internet-audience-measurement research company to complete a pre-audit from the Media Ratings Council.

He wrote: "NetRatings is the only internet-audience-measurement research company to have completed the MRC's pre-audit, and we are currently executing on a formal research plan jointly developed with the MRC's Research Committee. ... As a result, we were surprised by your comment that, 'We simply cannot let the internet, the most accountable medium ever invented, fall into the same bad customs that have hindered older media and angered advertisers for decades.' NetRatings anticipates attaining full MRC accreditation in the future, similar to MRC accreditations held by many established media measurement companies, including Nielsen Media Research."

ComScore, meanwhile, in a statement said it had opened its methodology and processes to the Advertising Research Foundation evaluation and hopes to release the results publicly in the near future.

'Will stand the scrutiny'
"ComScore's panel methodologies reflect the investment of millions of dollars and years of research and development. We are confident that they will stand the scrutiny of a third-party evaluation or audit," the letter stated. It also highlighted recent research released by the company about how cookie deletion is a threat to the accuracy of website-server logs. It said such activity leads to overstatements in the estimates of unique visitors from server logs by as much as 2.5 times.

In Mr. Rothenberg's letter, he charged that IAB publisher members noticed underreporting by panel-based audience-measurement firms by about that figure.

Said ComScore: "Many of our clients are using ComScore's panel data to adjust their own server-log data so as to eliminate the overstatement caused by cookie deletion and we would hope that this approach becomes a standard practice within the industry."
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