ARF TO SPEARHEAD STUDY ON MEASURING WEB ADS: RESEARCH GROUP GATHERS LEADERS IN NEW MEDIA TO PONDER ISSUE

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[monterey, calif.] The first study ever to compare the effectiveness of Internet ads with other media will be undertaken by the Advertising Research Foundation, the group announced last week.

The announcement came at a meeting on interactive media measurement hosted by ARF in conjunction with the ad industry's Coalition for Advertising Supported Information & Entertainment.

The 78 leaders in Internet publishing, advertising, marketing and research at the gathering discussed ways to develop an infrastructure for Net measurement and research.

MUST GAUGE EFFECTIVENESS

The overwhelming consensus was that if Internet advertising is to succeed, it must gauge effectiveness in awareness, recall and persuasion, all of which are already benchmarked in other media.

"We need to assess the value of advertising on the Web, whatever form it takes," said Gabe Samuels, ARF's senior VP-research.

ARF plans to coordinate the development of the study with a working group of industry representatives, though no timetable was set for the study's completion.

The news was just one development in a highly unusual, invitation-only gathering that offered an array of backgrounds and opinions, including media research providers, package-goods marketers, agency media buyers and Internet measurement companies.

"This is the first gathering of all sides in a dialogue," said ARF President Jim Spaeth. "All the other ad-supported media have some kind of infrastructure in terms of standards, measurement and reporting. This one doesn't. A medium can't function without" those things.

The meeting revolved around work groups focused on individual topics. One group spent 2 hours debating the value of the cost-per-thousand impressions model for selling Internet advertising and concluded, somewhat sheepishly, that the old-media CPM model is still the best terminology, at least for now.

CPM IS `A BASIC CURRENCY'

CPM is "a basic currency," said David Ernst, senior VP-group supervisor with Y&R Advertising, New York. What may be needed, he added, is an "enhanced CPM," which would value the number of relevant, or targeted, impressions.

Another group, led by Bill Harvey, chairman of new-media consultancy Next Century Media, put forth the notion of a working group to make sure Internet researchers provide reports of the same quality and accuracy as other media researchers.

No one seemed to care that very few hard conclusions were reached; the meeting of the minds was enough to stir action, attendees said.

"If it doesn't get easier to make a Web-based ad decision, the dollars aren't going to flow in," said Bob Ivins, senior VP-marketing, sales and business development at Web measurement company Internet Profiles Corp.

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