FAST Forward committee readies ad guidelines

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The fast forward Steering Committee, the association formed at Procter & Gamble Co.'s Future of Advertising Stakeholders summit in August, by the end of this month will release the first efforts aimed at getting more advertisers to spend money on Web advertising and make it more efficient.


The initiatives, ranging from voluntary privacy guidelines to data reconciliation between Web publishers' sites and third-party measurement companies, are the first tangible results emerging from FAST Forward.

"The progress has been phenomenal," said Rich LeFurgy, chairman of FAST Forward and chairman of the Internet Advertising Bureau. "The cooperation is unprecedented. We could not have done this 12 months ago."

In addition to the IAB, the Association of National Advertisers, the American Association of Advertising Agencies and the Advertising Research Foundation make up the FAST Forward coalition.

"The individual organizations thought they could do it on their own, but realized they couldn't," said Mr. LeFurgy. "This is a new medium, and we know we need to move together."

Ironically, the cooperation among the trade groups in the interactive arena comes at a time of deepening conflict between the ANA and the Four A's in the membership area. After the ANA opened its membership to ad agencies last month, the Four A's urged its members not to join the marketing association.


Yet, with FAST Forward, executives from the ANA and the Four A's, as well as the IAB and ARF, are working together as committee leaders to tackle four of the most vexing problems facing Web advertisers today: gaining consumer acceptance, creating effective measurement systems, making online advertising easier to buy and developing accepted ad models.


Last month at the @dtech conference in New York, the committees held a summit meeting to finalize action items, and later this month, the first results will be released.

The consumer acceptance committee will publish voluntary guidelines for disclosing privacy policies across marketing and media sites, including a marketing component to raise awareness of privacy issues. Mr. LeFurgy declined to say more about the marketing campaign.

On the ad model front, FAST Forward has created two committees to develop widely accepted online formats that will make it easier for marketers and their agencies to create and implement creative. The recommended ad models are called interactive suggested advertising units (ISAUs).


The narrowband ad model group this month will publish voluntary principles that will describe how new, larger, more interactive ad units need to work from advertiser, agency and online media company perspectives, said Mr. LeFurgy. The principles will be derived in part from research that's been conducted by Ipsos-ASI Research, evaluating factors such as how intrusive online advertising is, how long it takes to download ads and best online advertising practices.

The broadband committee, which is charged with developing ISAUs for delivery speeds of T1 and greater, will develop research for a test program in the first quarter of 1999, and will begin testing broadband ISAUs in the second quarter.

The measurement committee by the end of the year will publish research data that attempts to reconcile discrepancies between audience numbers coming from Web publishers' sites and data from third-party measurement companies.


However, this project is a tremendous effort, requiring cooperation among competing companies. To reconcile the data, the measurement group is collecting log server data from Web sites and audience measurement data from companies such as Media Metrix--which recently merged with RelevantKnowledge--to determine why numbers often are so far apart.

"The entire industry has come together and agreed on the concepts to move online advertising forward," said Bob Ivins, senior VP at Media Metrix. "Measurement is a great example. The challenge is taking these ideas and executing them."

Finally, the online media committee will publish voluntary guidelines on creating standard formats for insertion orders and other tools to simplify online media trafficking, providing make-goods and other buying functions. It also is working on a standard reporting template that will give advertisers and agencies a common format with which to track performance of online campaigns, such as number of impressions and click-throughs delivered.

"This is not sexy stuff, but it is the building blocks of how we do business," said Mr. LeFurgy.

Copyright November 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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