Web publishers queried over inflated audience figures

Australia’s biggest internet publishers are under the pump to have their websites audited after a report found evidence of inflated online audience measures.

A study released by the Audit Bureaux of Australia (ABA) found auto-refreshing of web pages could “double page impressions and more than quadruple session duration”, which are two key measures used by advertisers.

“Clearly the publishers have got legitimate concerns around the need to push out news. What the other titles have an issue about is that theres no rules around it,” explained ABA chief executive Gordon Towell.

According to a report in The Australian, many of the mastheads in News Limited’s Cumberland group have signed up to the web audit service launched in 2009 by the ABA.

However, the digital arms of News Digital Media, Fairfax Digital, Yahoo7, BigPond and Ninemsn have not yet agreed to have their sites audited.

The Media Federation of Australia has sent a letter to media buying agencies asking them to demand the websites from which they buy advertising be audited.