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UKOM Update

Giving an update on UKOM (formerly known as JICIMS), UKOM General Manager Peter Bowman said: "I believe we're on the way to providing what the online industry declared that it wanted at a milestone Summit last Autumn - an industry accepted planning system for online media.

Just before Christmas there were developments aplenty. Two of our shareholders, the IPA and ISBA withdrew. But, as JICIMS re-structures as UKOM, what justification is there for my optimism?

This piece will first remind you of our objectives, review recent events, tell you what’s happening next, and finally provide extra insight into the valuable data which UKOM already publishes."

UKOM’s objectives

"UKOM, ‘the UK Online Measurement Company’is concerned with the reach and profile of site audiences. We are taking a ‘user-centric’ approach which is essentially different from ‘site-centric’ information like ABCe, which is normally derived from log file based data and used to provide a census measurement of how many times a page is served.

A user-centric approach is about passive measurement of the overall online behaviour of a representative panel of internet users. A user-centric approach is about passive measurement of the overall online behaviour of a representative panel of internet users.

Our objective is a unified agreed data set for the pre-planning of online campaigns. The justification for the whole process has been to make the medium more accountable, particularly to branded advertisers, who will be provided with greater proof that online is the place to allocate their budgets."

Recent developments

"At a landmark Summit event in October we gathered together over ninety key decision takers in online, those we hope to be our future stakeholders - representing agencies, advertisers and publishers.

Nine out of ten attendees were certain that such an agreed planning system would tend to boost branded advertising. More than three quarters of delegates believed we should continue to pursue a conventionally funded ‘JIC’, with a similar number supporting alternative structures if that route proved unrealistic.

Before Christmas, the JICIMS board reported its conclusion that the industry as a whole was at that time unable to commit to £5m a year over a three year period, the amount required for the full JIC option. This was impossible given the financial challenges currently facing buyers, planners and sellers of online advertising.

We are now pursuing unification but not via a JIC and as a result the former JICIMS has been restructured with just the IAB and AOP as equal shareholders.

Guy Phillipson of the IAB and Bill Murray of the AOP are current directors, while Mark Cranmer remains as Chairman. Nigel Jacklin and I continue as Technical Consultant and General Manager. So there is the continuity and commitment from the IAB and AOP to see UKOM through the next stage up to the final provision of new data."

Next Steps

"We were very encouraged by last year’s ‘Request for Proposals’ (RFP) process, so we are returning to those research companies who submitted usable proposals and it is our goal to seek a formal partnership with one of them.

This partner is likely to be the company who can most closely match the original JICIMS specification within the available, reduced, funding. We believe that UKOM does not need to own the data, but we plan to fund necessary improvements so as to match JICIMS standards.

If we work with an existing supplier, we will aim to introduce those improvements in sampling, classification and measurement scope JICIMS identified in the aftermath of the RFP.

Another alternative is to partner a new supplier to create a totally new system which incorporates those improvements.

We will fund and organise the system in accordance with the levels of transparency, clarity and control associated with established industry media surveys, while injecting the pace of commercial decision taking appropriate to a fast developing medium.

A UKOM supplier brief is ready for release with an announcement regarding our partner’s identity due before the end of Q2 2009. But this is a process that will include consultation with all involved industry parties and one that we intend to be concluded by the delivery of improved and agreed industry data no later than January 2010."

Partnership with the NRS

"If partnership with a research contractor is our way forward, then we can also point to UKOM’s current partnership with an existing industry survey, the National Readership Survey (NRS).

A set of questions detailing the structure and profile of internet user ship has been incorporated in the NRS interview, and these data will form an Establishment Survey at the heart of the eventual planning system. In the meantime, data for the whole of 2008 is now available."

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