Web site traffic data to be audited on global standards

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LONDON -- Companies looking to sponsor or advertise on the Web will soon have a system of measuring the "hit rate" of those sites.

The International Federation of Audit Bureau of Circulations has agreed to work out a set of common standards and measurements for Web site traffic data, which will be applicable around the world.

The first workable minimum common standards will be established by the end of this year if all goes to plan. But Richard Foan, deputy chief executive of the U.K.'s Audit Bureau of Circulations and co-chairman of the IFABC's new Internet Standards Committee, stresses that the process of deciding what needs to be measured and then determining a method, will be evolutionary.

"The same happens in print media," he points out. "When free newspapers were introduced to the U.K. in the early 80s, we had to come up with new measurements. We have a small window of opportunity now (with Internet sites). If we leave it another year, there will be multiple standards set and it will be even harder to standardise."

The U.S. and Sweden have already created their own standards and measurements. Lars Bjorkman, managing director of the Swedish bureau, is co-chairman with Foan.

An international trademark will be developed and included on Web site reports when the standards are referred to by individual bureaux. "This will be a genuinely global currency," says Foan.

Copyright October 1996, Crain Communications Inc.

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