How big?

How big?

: Adam Penenberg at Wired News reports potentially good news for small sites (which, presumably, includes citizens’ media):

Next week, I/Pro and BPA are set to announce a $100 million program that will offer these niche sites an incentive to get audited. After I/Pro does its dirty work, a website would be eligible to receive ads from advertisers and ad buyers participating in I/Pro’s Agencies for Interactive Audits program. Some of these members include Universal McCann, Beyond Interactive and

The idea is to convince a whole generation of small and mid-sized sites to embrace one traffic standard. If this initiative is successful and I/Pro can make third-party auditing a requirement before ad firms will pay for advertising online, Barlin and his colleagues should stand to make a tidy profit.

A few reality checks: I wasted many a boring hour sitting on the first committee of the Audit Burea of Circulation to set up just such a traffic/audience audit structure as this for big publishers’ sites. It no longer exists. The issue: Advertisers care about auditing their own ads; they don’t really care about audited traffic counts for the sites. Now that may be somewhat different in this new world of smaller sites. But I know that the big publishers wouldn’t pay for the overall circulation audits; advertisers said they wanted them but never really demanded them; they’re gone.

Second, what is good about this is that it could start with setting standards for recording and reporting traffic and audience and that would be great. This new medium of small, distributed sites needs that badly.

Third, anybody who does that will need to be able to lash up traffic counts for ad hoc networks (e.g., networks of food bloggers or political bloggers an advertiser wants to buy).

Fourth, they also should set up the means and standards to let small sites do such things as set cookies so we can get accurate audience counts.

Fifth, they have to deal with RSS. That’s new since this was last tackled. Many sites, such as this one, put out their entire content on RSS and that’s not counted at all by SiteMeter. But what is counted on our servers is also misleading, since it keeps track of how many times a feed was downloaded when what we need to know is how many times the feed (or posts) were displayed (and thus presumably read).

Sixth, any new measurement regime should get ready to measure audio and video, too. And that opens up a whole ‘nother can o’ worms regarding measuring audience for content that is delivered via P2P such as BitTorrent. But we’ll get to that later. One giant step for mankind at a time. [via PaidContent]