Two research companies are girding for a head-to-head battle over who can provide more accurate Web site audience ratings and demographics.
RelevantKnowledge, a company founded by two former Turner Broadcasting System executives, is testing its service with 15 Web sites, agencies and marketers in preparation for a June launch. Its main competitor is NPD Group subsidiary PC Meter, which has quickly become a key industry resource for data on the most-visited sites.
RelevantKnowledge hopes to make the most out of a key statistic missing from PC Meter's reports: data on business usage of the Internet. While PC Meter measures Internet usage in 10,000 households, it's only now adding a business panel.
AN INDUSTRY FACE-OFF
RelevantKnowledge also plans to allow clients to access data directly via its Web site, whereas PC Meter's main delivery vehicle is a bound book.
The two companies will face off--literally--April 30 in presentations to the American Association of Advertising Agencies' Interactive Marketing and New Technologies committee in New York.
"We will have the ability to offer a robust and deep picture of demographic profiles of the users who are going to a particular site or a group of sites," said Jeff Levy, RelevantKnowledge co-founder and CEO. "[We want] to take the approach that Nielsen did in television and apply it to the Web."
He declined to comment on the size of the panel his company will use, or on pricing for the service.
Aside from the delivery mechanism and the composition of the panel, the two services seem similar. Both companies gather data from panels of Internet users who agree to install software on their computers. Both sell demographic data on Internet usage to agencies, advertisers and Web publishers.
RelevantKnowledge plans to provide data in more than 30 different demographic breakdowns. It will rank the top sites in a variety of categories and will allow clients to compare not only one site to another, but pages within a site.
Business user measurement is a key sticking point for Web publishers, who claim their sites are underreported by PC Meter.
"Approximately 85% of our traffic is during business hours, and where is that measured in home usage?" asked Richy Glassberg, VP-general manager of Turner Interactive Marketing and Sales, one of RelevantKnowledge's beta testers.
MEASURING BUSINESS USERS
Early indications from PC Meter's sample of "several hundred" business users don't show such radical shifts in usage, responded Doug McFarland, senior VP-general manager of the media division.
"The same 18 sites appear in the top of both [business and consumer] rankings," Mr. McFarland said. "CNN moved up some, but they didn't move up threefold, as some had been speculating."
PC Meter will ramp up to 1,000 to 1,500 business users next month, Mr. McFarland said. PC Meter, a subsidiary of market researcher NPD Group, which has quickly become a key industry resource for rankings of the most-visited sites.
Copyright April 1997, Crain Communications Inc.