CMR takes ad tracking service to the Internet

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New AdLab measures size, number of links on 50 Web sites for print mags

Apple. Netscape. Internet Shopping Network. Oracle.

These marketers didn't bulk up on print ads last year. But according to AdLab, a new tracking service from Competitive Media Reporting, they're among the top advertisers on print magazine Web sites.

Founded with Internet research group USA Data, New York, as a one-year trial, AdLab is CMR's first attempt to expand its well-known media measurement services into the interactive world.

AdLab ranks advertisers on an index based on the number of ads on 50 online magazine sites. When figuring ratings, the index also incorporates the size of the ads and the amount of active links an advertiser has.

CMR and USA Data have developed a function that factors in the various data to arrive at a rating called the "ad activity index."

STEERING CLEAR OF AD SPENDING

So far, CMR is steering clear of tallying actual spending, because Web ad prices are so fluid.

Like CMR's other media measurement services, however, AdLab allows users to view advertising activity by Publishers Information Bureau category, magazine title or advertiser brand.

Users can also view virtual tear-sheets of a marketer's creative.

For example, a search for AT&T ads on the Web might reveal a "True Choice" banner on one site and an AT&T WorldNet ad on another.

"We started [with magazines] because we wanted to use a universe that was recognizable and manageable," said Joseph Philport, exec VP-national business.

TO MIRROR TRADITIONAL MEDIA

If the test is successful, CMR could further segment its new-media reporting services to mirror traditional media, like online newspapers, online broadcasters, etc. But for now, Mr. Philport said, the product is only an "assessment."

"Is the medium significant enough yet to warrant inclusion in our multimedia package? For now, the answer is `no,' " he said.

Still in beta test, the service is now being used by the 50 online magazines participating in the reports, including Elle, The New Yorker, Playboy, Time and Life. Internet users can also access limited report information at USA Data's Web site.

Although it hasn't begun selling subscriptions yet, CMR plans to charge about $5,000 annually for the service.

EXECS BULLISH ON CONCEPT

Magazine executives who previewed the product are bullish on the concept.

"I think it's going to work, especially if they get a price point that's not too expensive," said Laura Klancer, director-new media, Lang Communications.

Others criticize CMR's rigid parameters, saying "online magazines" will have to expand to include magazines with no print counterpart.

With its current model, CMR analyzes each individual magazine and not the site as a whole. For example, it looks at Sports Illustrated and Time rather than Time Warner's Pathfinder.

"I'd define segments more by Web site based on the publisher's definition of its brand," said Hearst's Ms. Russo. "If an ad appears on our Web site, they haven't bought [sponsorship] because of our magazines, they've bought it because of our Web site," she said.

Other services, like WebTrack are also working on providing data on Web ad activity, including spending. WebTrack issued a survey last December naming AT&T the top Web advertiser (AA, Dec.18).

Copyright March 1996 Crain Communications Inc.

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