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IAB seeks to create a definition for news following Buzzfeed debate

IABThe Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) is looking to establish a definition around what content should be classified as news after viral content site Buzzfeed complained it had been put in the wrong category, Mumbrella understands.

The move by the digital advertising body, which will be an initiative of the IAB Measurement Council, comes after Mumbrella reported last month Buzzfeed’s Australian operation had enough traffic to make it into the top ten for news sites, but had been classified under “search engines, portals, and communities”, despite its official launch by the Walkley Foundation in January where it claimed to be a news site.

In the month since, Nielsen has had extensive consultations with its parent US company and chosen to reclassify Buzzfeed into a news subcategory in Australia, but will still not be allowed to enter the main news site rankings.

“As of May data to be released in June, Buzzfeed will fall into the News & Information > Multi-category News & Information sub-category,” said a spokeswoman for Nielsen in a statement.

“This adjustment is as a result of a review of Buzzfeed’s content by Nielsen in collaboration with Buzzfeed in the U.S. and locally, that review concluded that their content is now best aligned with this sub-category definition.”

CEO of the IAB Australia Alice Manners told Mumbrella the body would seek to create a definition around the news category as well as other categories such as entertainment to help guide future debates around content and what should not be allowed in the various categories.

“The IAB will assist in shaping the methodology and approach to classifications such as news or other categories as and when required,” Manners told Mumbrella.

The implementation of the set rules is to be co-ordinated and managed by the vendor (Nielsen). This will be an initiative for the IAB Measurement Council to kick off.

“Given that this question of news categorisation extends beyond just the digital world and is obviously highly topical, the IAB and the measurement council will look to involve relevant category stakeholders into the process.”

The precise timeframe of consultation has yet to be decided however, Manners confirmed “journalism stakeholders will be contributing to the process.”

Last month, after being excluded from the rankings, Buzzfeed’s Australian editor Simon Crerar told Mumbrella: “We consider ourselves a news and entertainment company in the same way that NineMSN, News.com.au and the Mail Online have a mix between hard news and entertainment content.

“That is very much what we do too.”

Today Crerar would not be drawn on the decision to continue to exclude Buzzfeed from the rankings. “We are very happy with our growth locally,” said Crerar. “Of course it’s up to Nielsen where they place us.” 

Nic Christensen 

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