BRUSSELS: Online audience measurement requires consistent definitions and metrics across countries if it is to serve the needs of marketers, but should also start from looking at individuals' internet activity, according to a position paper published by the World Federation of Advertisers' Digital Network.

Drawing on expertise from industry bodies including the ANA in the US, OWM in Germany, UDA in France and SA in Sweden, the organisation is aiming to help develop a stronger framework to measure ROI.

Such a process is necessary, it argues, given the "current volumes of investment, the growing complexity of available alternatives and the risks and opportunities" associated with online services from search and social networks to mobile. 
Web-based media, the position paper reports, is "still in the process of defining itself" and what it can offer to users and advertisers alike, while large sample sizes are also likely to be required in order to measure highly segmented audiences.

However, current initiatives tend to be country or platform-specific, and often "site-centric", as they were developed to address the requirements of publishers, so their "methodologies, metrics and definitions tend to differ."

However, advertisers want audience measurement processes that "correspond to their actual needs," which include covering multiple platforms and offering useful "consolidtaions and comparisons."

Such information could take the form of data on the devices consumers are using to access the web, how long they are online for, the pages they are visiting and their "acceptance of commercial presence."

Such metrics should be established at the industry level, the WFA argues, and be utilised across countries, in order to assess audiences with the sort of criteria, such as demographics, that are commonly employed in marketing and media research.

Data sourced from World Federation of Advertisers; additional content by WARC staff