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Maxus Sets Standard on Digital Ad Buying

03 Sep 2010

The days of internet publishers automatically refreshing web pages, thereby generating higher audience numbers, are numbered. Maxus has become the first media agency to ban the practice.

As reported in The Australian, Maxus chief executive David Gaines said the agency's digital advertising buyers had been told they were only to buy advertising on sites that were audited by the Audit Bureaux of Australia "with immediate effect".

Auto-refreshing refers to the practice of serving up fresh versions of pages to web browsers at regular intervals -- as short as every four or five minutes -- regardless of whether that page is actively being viewed by the user or simply running on their computer in the background.

The practice, which is not allowed on ABA-audited sites, has been found to inflate key audience metrics, increasing average session duration by as much as 75 per cent, and boosting page impressions, or the number of times an ad is served, by 20 to 40 per cent. Mr Gaines said the directive would apply to cost-per-thousand, or reach-based advertising buys, not to cost-per-click, or performance-based deals, and would apply equally to unaudited niche publishers and to all the big publishers that auto-refresh pages, including Fairfax Digital, News Digital Media, Ninemsn, Yahoo7 and BigPond.

He told The Australian industry inaction on auto-refresh was forcing media agencies to take matters into their own hands.

"We're getting to the point where nothing's really happening (from an industry perspective), so we're going to officially boycott sites that don't adhere to the ABA's audit process," Mr Gaines said.

"It's a bit hypocritical to go and spend money with publishers when you don't know what you're buying," he said.

Interactive Advertising Bureau chief executive Paul Fisher, whose members include the big five publishers, said the Maxus decision was an example of market forces at play in the $550 million internet display sector.

Source: The Australian


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