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AGRIBUSINESS INTERNET ADVERTISING COUNCIL SETS STANDARDS


Ever wondered what is a "hit" or a "click"? Donít worry, so has everyone else. To answer your questions, the Agribusiness Internet Advertising Council (AIAC) - a group of Web companies, media firms, advertisers and agencies - is working together to define and standardize concepts relating to farm-oriented online advertising.

The purpose of AIAC, which 'egan nearly a year ago, is to standardize "terminology, metrics, methodology and education for Internet advertising in agribusiness." The council already has devised terminology to be used across all ag Web sites. (The standardized terms are available at www.nama.org/aiac/content.html.) AIAC also has endorsed third-party auditing of ag Web sites selling advertising, as a step toward accreditation of those sites.

NEW FRONTIERS

Earlier this year, AIAC selected officers and organized two new committees: One deals with research and the other focuses on privacy issues.

Irene Hindman, AIAC president and vice president of media services for Bader Rutter & Associates, says the research committee is working to measure farmer usage of Internet sites across multiple sites. She stresses that the research measures usage of the Internet as a vehicle, not the individual sites.

"Research can be very expensive, and Web companies in their infancy donít want to invest in research," Hindman says. "Advertisers, on the other hand, donít know how many farmers are using the Internet, and they cannot determine if their advertising investment is warranted. The research committee seeks the most efficient way to measure what sites farmers are using at a reasonable cost."

Another venture of AIAC is the development of "commonly held ideas about how the agricultural Internet industry respects the privacy of online producers," says Debbie Brill, AIACís Privacy Committee Chairperson and vice president of AgWeb.com.

Brill says AIAC is working toward adopting standards that pertain to Internet usage and the privacy of the users to prevent the misuse of any personal data recorded on the Internet.

According to Brill, AIAC is using guidelines endorsed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on privacy to begin structuring standards of privacy of the ag Internet industry. The FTC guidelines call for industry self-regulation in protecting online privacy. The four primary principles for Web sites and advertisers are:

*
Web sites to contain a clearly identifiable and accessible privacy policy that explains the intended use of the information and any third-party distribution that could occur;

*Users to have the choice to supply private information and the ability to opt out of providing personal information;

*Web sites to provide users access to any personal information granted in order to correct inaccuracies; and

*Sites and other third parties to have security measures to protect personal information voluntarily provided on the site from misuse and modification.

AIACís privacy committee will develop unique standards of privacy by analyzing producer behavior of the Internet. Brill says the committee plans to listen to farmers through the various communication channels of the Internet, such as online discussions, e-mail and information provided on the sites.

NEXT STEPS

During the National Agri-Marketing Associationís Conference in Denver in April, Irene Hindman will lead a meeting providing an update on AIACís activities and future plans. For more information about AIAC, go to the Web site at www.nama.org/aiac/content.html. AM



Bekah Reddick is Internet news editor for Doane Agricultural Services, St. Louis.



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