Net ad standard is a good move

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The World Wide Web finally has a worldwide ad standard. "Leading global advertising industry organizations endorse interactive advertising campaign measurement guidelines," trumpeted last week's announcement from the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

The topic is as old as Internet advertising. The first Web banner ad ran Oct. 27, 1994. Five months earlier, a Prodigy executive said in Ad Age: "Standards will become a big issue." Two years later, Ad Age ran the headline: "Web industry poised for standards fight."

Advertising buyers, sellers and agencies now have worldwide standards for counting online advertising impressions. This is an important and welcome step forward for the ad industry.

Technically, ad trade groups agreed on "guidelines," not standards. But guidelines become the standard when buyers demand them and media implement them. That's happening. The IAB said "almost all major online publishers" support the standard.

The rules build on U.S. online ad guidelines in place since 2002. Now there is a single global standard-for the first time in any medium. The Internet is inherently a worldwide Web; the global standard should simplify and improve the efficiency of online media planning and buying.

Other media-TV, radio, print-tend to be national or local, relying on measurement standards set by country or region. Should other media adopt global standards? That's an appealing idea. We're in a world of multinational marketers served by global agencies buying from global media companies. Global standards that both simplify the buying process and improve the quality of measurement would be welcome.

The online ad field's move to a global standard should give a boost to a booming medium that is taking share away from rival media. Maybe that will prod other media to see how they measure up.

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