Email Measurement Standards

The IFABC WWW Standards Committee developed an outline of suggested metrics for verifying email traffic and other associated data. This version was drafted in February 2002. This outline includes suggestions for:

  • 1. Metrics for distribution
  • 2. Metrics for data quality
  • 3. Action on receipt measures
  • 4. Methodology for audits

1. Metrics for distribution

a. Total number of emails sent by the email distributor (i.e. deliveries attempted).

b. Time batch distribution started and finished.
The reason for this standard is that many email campaigns are time-sensitive; for example, advertisers want to reach the audience for a football game between 5 and 2 hours before it starts.

c. Total number of emails bounced (where a hard bounce is defined as a Non-Delivery Notification).
This is measured as the number of bounces after 24 hours or more of the last email in a campaign or distribution being sent.

d. Net Delivered Emails.
This is calculated as (a) minus (c) above.

2. Metrics for data quality

a. Total number of email ADDRESSES (SMTP) (not addressees) on the distribution.
This is not addressees because it was agreed that it was not possible to find the number of people from a list unless extra information was available - one person may have more than one email account for various reasons.

b. Duplication level of addresses stated as a percentage of the gross distribution.
This enables the demographics still to be analysed without trying to net down the claim for the duplicates.

c. Demographics as stored by the database managing company.
The sources should be recorded, together with the age of those sources. IFABC will review this area with further discussion at their next meeting.

3. Metrics for action on reciept

a. Opened emails
b. Clicks (including clicks per unique Browser, called unique clicks)
c. Forwarded emails (pass-along)

To ensure that claims can be verified by audit, it was agreed that HTML/XML emails are the only type that can be measured at this stage.

Only Online Opening can be tracked in real time - we may not know the fact that a mail has been opened offline until sometime later, even if tagging is being used.

The IFABC www standards group will also review measurable standards for virality, such as the number of pass-along emails and measurement of emails opened from addresses other than the original.

4. Outline methodolgy for audits

This will be based on the statistical analysis of original email server data and database content queries to agreed confidence thresholds. In order to deliver an audit of the claimed statistics, the distributor will need to:

a. Be able to count their email traffic
b. Make available supporting data samples that contain appropriate information (to include all logs, including bounce logs from the SMTP server
c. Facilitate the authentication of emails by writeback checks where privacy rules allow.
d. Allow for the auditor to "salt" or "seed" the email list.
e. Make the whole email list available to the auditor.

Web Standards

IFABC web standards define the key metrics relevant in buying and selling digital media.

They cover everything from page impressions to email delivery and are truly global in their application.