In what could be a big fillip to the digital media industry, the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) has said that it has decided to start computing digital audiences. Currently, ABC is involved only in measuring and auditing newspaper and magazine circulation in the country.

Shashi Sinha, the chief executive officer of media agency IPG Mediabrands and the new chairman of the ABC, is expected to oversee the implementation of the project aimed at measuring the audience for digital media.

"It's a big shift for ABC, which has been a body for print media. Now, it is getting into digital audience measurement with research and information firm Nielsen," Livemint quoted Sinha as saying.

The new services offered by the ABC can be accessed by all digital media agencies that want to measure their audience in a transparent way, according to ABC's secretary general H.B. Masani.

Sinha also spoke of making the service broad-based and affordable. 

"We are open to all digital products and not just newspaper publishers' online businesses. The plan is to keep the pricing of the service low so that more and more people can access it," Sinha said.

"We have been working on it for a year. Although there are some private measurement services available, this will be the first by an industry body," he added. 

Sinha said that the publishers will get the actual count of page views as well as the profiles of their audience.

A digital daily has welcomed the development with a caveat.

"Digital will benefit from more measures and spotlight. After all, Indians with Internet spend more than half their time online, but advertisers spend less than 10% on the medium. Whether this new system is more useful than the battery of existing analytics remains to be seen," said Samir Patil, founder and chief executive officer of Scroll.