ONLINE TRAFFIC MONITORING RIVALS LAUNCH NEW WEB TOOLS

Nielsen, Media Metrix Target Daypart Measurement

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Online traffic monitoring rivals Nielsen/NetRatings and comScore Media Metrix today introduce tools for comprehensive daypart analysis.
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The ability to segment and target Internet audiences by daypart is key to buyers and sellers of digital media looking to make efficient comparisons to offline media.

250 sites
Nielsen/NetRatings introduces Internet Pocketpiece, a syndicated Internet measurement tool that will allow agencies and publishers to view monthly traffic and key audience data for the top 250 ad-supported Web sites. The tool addresses the long-standing issue of advertisers examining audience data for Web properties that don't have advertising. For example, Microsoft.com doesn't carry ads, yet the site's traffic is folded into monthly data along with the sites within the MSN network that do accept advertising, such as MSN Autos and Slate.

Pocketpiece has existed in the offline media world via Nielsen Media Research, which has a majority interest in Nielsen/NetRatings, and is used by buyers of national broadcast, cable and syndicated TV.

"We want to be able to deliver to our customers an actionable audience and to move more money [to online]," said David Hills, chief operating officer and president of sales for Primedia's About, a charter client. Agencies have asked for data on reach and composition of their target demographics by daypart for "apples to apples" comparisons across media, he said.

Meanwhile, comScore Media Metrix is also launching a daypart reporting tool that will be integrated into its MyMetrix system. The company will make it available to all comScore Media Metrix subscribers without the purchase or use of separate software.

Struggling with standards
The relatively young Internet medium has struggled over appropriate measurement standards. Last month, comScore Media Metrix restated measurements for October to December 2002 and January 2003, citing flaws in how it measured the at-work audience and the time users spent on a page.

"One of the reasons for restating the data had to do with the minutes calculation and how we processed pop-up ads," said Peter Daboll, president of comScore Media Metrix. He said comScore rectified the situation by automating the system for removing pop-ups from the data. He also said that comScore rejiggered its work sample of 35,000 at-work panelists. Large companies, Mr. Daboll said, had been under-represented in the sample. The restatement allows for a more accurate reflection of the at-work audience, he said.

Timing is coincidental
Manish Bhatia, senior vice president of product marketing and business development for Nielsen/NetRatings, said the timing of the Pocketpiece introduction was "absolutely coincidental" and that the product has been in development for four months.

"We're not launching a change in how we count audiences, this is just a repackaging of the information we already report," he said, adding that comScore's restatement focused on the organization's underlying methodology.

Skeptical publisher
At least one online publisher is skeptical of both services, though he hasn't been briefed on the new products. "We would be in favor of anything that allows the online measurement companies to represent the online audience more accurately than they do now," said Martin Nisenholtz, CEO, The New York Times Co.'s New York Times Digital.

Mr. Nisenholtz wants digital audience data to be audited by a third party, similar to the Media Rating Council's role with print, TV and radio. MRC audits Arbitron for radio rankings, and Mediamark Research Inc. for print and Nielsen Media for TV rankings.

"These created entities [Nielsen's and comScore's listings that represent a collection of URLs rather than one URL or primary Web site] are just a pure manipulation of the measurement service. They're not real," Mr. Nisenholtz said.

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