Thanks to ABCe for pointing me to a recent judgement by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that should concern all publishers. The ASA upheld a complaint about an e-mail newsletter and a follow-up leaflet for an IT contractor service, Contractor UK, which stated “… Best month ever for CUK … Contractor UK recorded its best month ever for traffic during the month of March 2008 … resulting in 249,146 unique visitors coming to Contractor UK …”.
The ASA upheld the complaint that the email and brochure breached the CAP code clauses of Substantiation, Truthfulness and other comparisons because the traffic figures quoted were unaudited. The complain was upheld even though the ASA recognised that the method of collecting traffic figures would meet the Joint Industry Committee for Web Standards in the UK and Ireland (JICWEBS) standards for reporting if implemented correctly. The lack of an audit, however, meant the ASA considered the evidence to support the traffic figures to be “not sufficiently robust to substantiate their unique visitor claims“.
This is a really interesting judgement for the electronics industry as few European electronics sites have audited figures. Although I am not convinced that the ruling is entirely sensible, I’m pleased that it does highlight the lower credibility of unaudited traffic figures. It will be interesting to see if this ruling is something that sets a precident in the UK, which would surely increase the value of website audits.