Standards key issue at Web conference

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The debate over Web standards was a hot topic at the Web Advertising '96 conference on Thursday in New York as 400 media, marketer and agency representatives gathered to debate and learn about issues relating to Web advertising and marketing.

Conference speakers called for Web media and advertisers to come together to develop standard ways of placing and tracking advertising, an effort that the Coalition for Advertising Supported Information & Entertainment and the Internet Advertising Bureau are tackling.

There seemed to be little disagreement among attendees that some form of standards is necessary for the Web to grow as an ad medium. But whether that means limiting advertising to certain shapes and sizes or creating a simpler way to place advertising is still up for debate.

Also a problem: definitions. While some in the industry think terms like "impression" and "user" are standardized, they are not, warned Bradley Aronson, who heads up Web consultancy i-frontier.

One site offering to sell ad space to i-frontier claimed to offer a guaranteed number of impressions, for example. But only after further questioning did it admit that the impressions it was guaranteeing weren't impressions on the page the ad was appearing on; they were overall site impressions, meaning that the advertiser was paying for impressions its ad never received.

"How do we measure when we don't know what they're saying?" he asked of Web media sellers. "You have to ask them every step of the way to make sure what you're buying."

Copyright October 1996, Crain Communications Inc.

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