BPA wraps up first audit of Economist Group Web site

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Results called selling point for advertisers in info technology

BPA International completed its first third-party audit of a publishing company's World Wide Web site last week, presenting The Economist Group's d.Comm site with demographic and traffic data measured during the first three months of the year.

D.Comm is a free site for information technology professionals with sponsors like Microsoft Corp. and Frontier Technology.

According to BPA's data compiled from complete log files (rather than samples) of the Web site, there are 12,011 registered users, with nearly 30% in continental Europe or the U.K. and 47% hailing from the U.S.

"I think the big IT [information technology] advertisers will be far keener now that we've got the audit," said Chris Kirk, publisher of the site.

DATA ON USERS' AGE

Mr. Kirk said the most useful information provided by the audit was on user age: More than 65% are between 26 and 50 years old, with only 9% over 50.

Since the audit period ended, the site has both begun requiring registration by users and marketing itself interactively on search service Yahoo! (http://www.yahoo.com), two moves that could create effects worth watching in further audits, Mr. Kirk said.

"They're providing a sound system," said Judy Black, chairwoman of the Council for Advertiser Supported Information & Entertainment, and senior partner of new-media technology and director of interactive development at Bozell, New York. CASIE is a consortium of marketers and agencies working on measurement standards for the Web.

BPA President-CEO Mike Marchesano said his company will start clients with quarterly reports, but could "optimally allow them to drill down to monthly data" later this year.

Ms. Black said quarterly reports leading to reports on a greater frequency were a wise strategy for BPA's first efforts. "Consistency in general is one of the themes we're encouraging" among companies that offer audits, she said, both in terms of frequency and report categories.

AUDIT BUREAU ACTION

Separately, the Audit Bureau of Circulations takes its Web auditing software out of beta effective today and begins offering clients monthly reports, said Mike Lavery, president-managing director.

Conde Nast Publications' Conde Net is the audit bureau's first client, and has worked with the company during beta testing of the software.

The audit bureau's service licenses Market Arts' Webtrack software exclusively. Last week, Jupiter Communications acquired the Webtrack auditing service, which it will rename Webfacts effective June 1, said James Kennedy, senior VP-publishing of Webtrack.

Copyright June 1996 Crain Communications Inc.

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