So what does this mean? For the past several months we've been working behind the scenes to put a formal partnership in place between the Web Analytics Association (WAA) and the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) to increase our collaboration on metric standards. Called out on more than one occasion as to why we weren't "working together" from thought leaders in the industry, we found that the people, the atmosphere and the timing were right to squash this perception for good.
Standards are, well, a little boring (let's be honest here), but they are necessary. They help focus Web analytics and advertising measurement so that both practices within the industry can evolve and grow.
The conversation between the WAA and the IAB isn't new. We've been chatting for a while. But as I have written in other articles here in the Metrics Insider, the public argument was that we should be sitting at the same table with each other to draft the standards. There are fundamental reasons why this is not feasible, and I encourage you to read my earlier post that breaks down the physical and philosophical differences between the organizations and members.
So here is a clip from the press release that hit the wires last week:
"WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - April 21, 2008) - Today the Web Analytics Association (WAA) and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) announced their intention to work more closely together to increase consistency and clarity around Web metrics standards. Both organizations have independently made strides toward the standardization of terms commonly used in the advertising and analytics fields. The purpose of the new partnership is to better communicate the goals of metrics standards to the two organizations' respective memberships and target audiences, as well as to better convey the goals of each organization and the subtle differences that may occur among metrics standards. The WAA and the IAB have historically had different goals for metrics standardization. The WAA's mission is to foster the growth and evolution of the Web analytics industry by encouraging that the name and definition of each metric is consistent across vendors. This reduces confusion for analytics professionals who are comparing vendors and integrating data from different providers. The IAB is focused on increasing the reliability, consistency and transparency of the metrics used for buying and selling interactive advertising. The IAB's Measurement Guidelines include specific technical processes that ensure the validity of interactive advertising currency. While both the IAB and the WAA work toward standardization of metrics, due to the different missions they have, members of both organizations will benefit from increased communication."
The bottom line goal here is for each organization to "review" the proposed metric standards prior to entering the public comment phase. There is no "approval" process - the goal is to review the documents of each respective party and ensure that we are not introducing confusion into the industry. The WAA Standards committee meets weekly to discuss, debate and document standards. There is more material to cover than most volunteers (because that is what we are) can manage. If a standard already exists that has been set by the IAB, we'll adopt directly when we can and we'll modify or expand the definition when it is in the best interest for our members.
No one is trying to reinvent the wheel here - because we all know that we are way too busy! However the Web and marketing analysts who utilize data from web analytics tools and ad servers need standards to apply based on the business questions that they are being asked to answer. The WAA is focused on supporting all aspects of web measurement in a broad sense while the IAB's mission is to foster the continuing growth of the interactive advertising marketplace. We are all in this together, just answering questions in different parts of the same space.