French service measures Internet traffic

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PARIS--In a bid to provide greater information to advertising agencies and ad space buyers, French audience measurement leader Mediametrie has unveiled a new system for tracking the popularity of Internet sites.

The Cybermetrie ("CyberMonitor'') project tracks total visits to 20 of the top French Web sites via recording software placed inside Internet servers operating the sites. Internet service providers, portals and search engines topped the September audience table, Mediametrie says.

France Telecom-owned ISP Wanadoo led the pack, with 15.9 million recorded visits in which at least one page was viewed. Web directory PagesJaunes Internet was second, with nearly 6.3 million visits, followed by France Telecom-operated portal, with 6.1 million visits. Internet community site Caramail recorded 5.7 million visits in September, followed by ISP Club-Internet, with 5 million visits and the portal site, with 2.9 million visits.

Business daily Les Echos topped the news category, with 2.8 million monthly visits, followed by Le Monde, with 1.16 million visits, top TV network TF1, with 1.1 million visits and left-leaning daily Liberation, with 853,000 visits.

While most leading French sites have subscribed to the ratings service (for an annual fee varying between $8,000 and $16,000), key industry players, including Yahoo! France and community site Multimania, have opted not to participate. They claim that the Mediametrie system -- based on total visits, rather than the number of individual visitors and their profiles -- does not meet their commercial needs.

The French Web measurement business is heating up. France's NetValue, associated with the French polling firm Sofres, is increasing the scope of Web audience measurements it compiles in France, Germany, the U.K. and the U.S.

U.S.-based Mediamatrix, operating under the name MMXI Europe in association with French polling firm Ipsos, will release its first Internet audience measurements here in mid-November.

Ad agency leaders agree that the establishment of clear audience figures is crucial to the development of the French cyberublicity sector, estimated at $11 million in the first quarter of 1999, up 400% from the same period last year.

Copyright October 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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