NET DEMAND

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The good news from a coming Internet report is that overall audience measurement data from such companies as Media Metrix and Nielsen/NetRatings catch 93% of the traffic reported on logs of Web sites' computer servers, as disclosed in this issue's Interactive Media & Marketing section. The bad news, per the draft study by industry coalition FAST, is that data may miss the boat on certain sites, overcounting audience in some cases by 200% and underreporting some by 85%.

We're glad to see data scrutinizing Net data. FAST is to be applauded for pushing on Web measurement. But we're wondering why the Internet field still is grappling with problems that have plagued the market for five years.

It's time for all parties to turn up the heat and ensure that the research the market is buying is worth believing. Advertisers, agencies and media must demand excellence in research; technically, it is possible for the new medium to deliver on its promise of precisely targeted and measured delivery of audience and advertising.

Many of us would rather talk or read about, or participate in, more scintillating aspects of the Internet than data methodology. But the Internet won't reach its potential in marketing and advertising unless everyone can trust the data. The Net's youthfulness is no excuse. Internet research must be held to the highest standard of any media research, and that only will happen when

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