An Urgent Call to Action for Consensus On New Media Metrics

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Viewpoint: Now or Never – An Urgent Call to Action for Consensus On New Media Metrics

By: Alan Wurtzel

Journal of Advertising Research, Volume 49, No. 3, September 2009.

Executive Summary

The issue of standardization of media (including web) metrics has become increasingly important to address and find solutions for. Wurtzel does a good job outlining where the metric standardization problems in television originated and how that has spilled over into internet advertising. He outlines four major problems facing media: 1. Constantly new metrics from new platforms dilute an already cloudy soup of existing metrics; 2. There is no coordinated effort to leverage every research provider’s best assets; 3. There are no standardization standards anywhere; and 4. There is a need to measure cross-platform performance to exploit the good in each platform.

He concludes his opinion piece by offering up some solutions that mainly centre on the ideas of bipartisanship, collaboration, and transparency. He also cites the players that will be critical in achieving a consensus on new media metrics. They include trade organizations, national governments, and research providers.


Wurtzel does a good job outlining a continuing problem both in the television/media world as well as online. Differences in definitions of metrics with the same label used across different audience measurement tools down to different web analytics tools plagues the quality and ultimate conclusions of analysis and reporting being done by web analysts. You don’t have to go far to learn of the frustration of web analysts when you ask of their opinion on the many different ways a "visit” can be defined.

The author makes valid points in the approach towards standardization: All parties with vested interest put aside short term self-interest in the name of accuracy and stability of metrics. He also states legacy consequences if action is not taken now. The same can be said for web analytics metrics where if definitions of even the simplest of metrics are not standardized, it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to conduct analyses on historical web performance for anything.

While this article being read by the members and friends of the Web Analytics Association seems like preaching to the choir, it is still an interesting read for those interested in web analytics standards given that the solutions that Wurtzel proposes ultimately has cross-platform implications.