The newly formed Agribusiness Internet Advertising Committee (AIAC) met recently to refine measurement of farm-oriented advertising over the World Wide Web, according to Irene Hindman, AIAC director and vice president of media services, at Bader Rutter & Associates.

The AIAC took a step forward when it endorsed voluntary, third-party auditing of all Website selling advertising to agribusiness, Hindman said.

"This was a big step on the way to meeting our goal of having AIAC accreditation of Internet sites," she said. "A future goal is establishing an industrywide cross-site rating system--similar to TV ratings--that would help advertisers rank sites based on how their target audiences use the Web."

AIAC heard presentations from potential auditor companies. It also heard from firms offering ratings services. "We will tackle the ratings issue in due time," she added, noting that setting up farmer panels and tracking Internet usage is more expensive than auditing individual site use.

"We have made great progress in a few short months," Hindman said. "This council started in April, when we invited seven of the largest farm-based Internet sites to work together to create consistent industry standards for farm Web site measurement. Since then, the industry and agribusiness have shown great interest in the project. The number of participants has quickly grown."

Forty-five representatives, from media companies, ad agencies and advertisers, attended the second AIAC meeting. AIAC will meet again in mid-September, she said, and hopes to roll out national standards by 2001.

"Consistent, acknowledged standards on Web audience measurement will help advertisers assess what they are buying. Increased confidence will boost the share of advertising dollars going to Internet media," she added. "This will enhance content and services available to rural audiences, which are rapidly catching up with society in Internet access for business-to-business and personal communications."

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