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INTERVIEW: WASA, the Website Association of South Africa

Heard on the grapevine that a potential, low cost, hassle free, non big-boys-club competitor to the OPA had launched recently.

My take on the OPA for those interested. At first glance, disliked them. In fact, launched various petitions under the guise of my previous company. It took to the market like a bloated old boys club, forcing sites to pay to be members of an association with no discernable value besides "audited" statistics that, theoretically, advertisers should trust.

That may have changed, I'm not sure. Like so many other things, once a product leaves a bad taste in your mouth, you rarely return to graze.

Enter WASA. They accept analytics and for the moment, are FREE. The site owners say that even when pay subscriptions start, it'll be low. (Nothing like the launch of OPA 3/4 years ago demanding 1% of turnover (UPDATED: R20,000 NOT 1% of turnover)!?!?). Doubt that idea lasted.

I spoke to Jonathan Smit - one of the owners. The textual interview is below for your enjoyment. Go check out the site - all the big boys are there. Let's get some local bloggers / portals / communties up!

1. Reason you started the site?

WASA was formed with the aim of providing a comprehensive list of South African websites with audited statistics. We wanted to create a central place where website owners could list information about their sites which is then disseminated to the media, advertisers and other interested parties. Our aim is to enhance the profile of South African websites and to provide an affordable way for local sites to get their statistics audited and to help them establish their web presence.

2. Relationship with the OPA?

The OPA is focused on supporting the needs of online publishers and WASA offers a complimentary service which is open to all websites (Not only publishers). We see ourselves as working hand in hand with the OPA. We have already met with them and our meetings have been very positive.

3. Cost to join?

Membership will be free until the end of May 2008 wherafter it will cost R100, R200 or R500 per month depending on how you would like your site to be classified. The classification is up to the website owner. A small website will pay R100 / month, a medium one, R200, and a large website will pay R500 / month.

4. How to do you "audit" or ensure "audited" stats?

In order to ensure that we use comparable measurements, WASA only accept statistics from Google Analytics or Nielsen/Netratings. We have an independent legal firm (Buys Inc) who audit the numbers and they are the only people who will have access to verify the figures from the source.

5. Do you list your stats on WASA as well?!

As soon as we can, we will! But owing to the fact that the site has only been operational for 5 days, we do not currently have a full month's worth of stats to list ;-)

Musing: I wonder if Amatomu missed a trick to become the de facto "audited" stats provider for blogs. I know network advertising was in their plan (according to some glam interview I read!)...

UPDATE: Thanks Matthew for the corrections. I guess my issue back then was the exclusion of the "long tail" publishers by virtue of the enormous entry fee. That led to the perception of the "old boys club". Not by everyone, just by those excluded. :)

Read the old mud-slinging debate here (don't you love the ability to dig stuff outta the archives using Google!?).

Read Matthew Buckland's thoughts here.

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