Nielsen//NetRatings launches expanded tracking service

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A new measurement system launched by Nielsen//NetRatings last month expands the scope of its tracking services. Instead of measuring only Web browsing, the system now will also track a more comprehensive set of Internet applications, giving media buyers and sellers more data on audience behavior.

The service, Digital Media Universe, adds audience traffic data and online behavior for Internet applications that are run online and offline, AOL proprietary channels, instant messaging, media players, Web-enabled phones and wireless content.

"A lot of activity doesn’t happen on a Web browser," said Sean Kaldor, VP-marketing and analytics at NetRatings Inc., Milpitas, Calif., which provides Internet measurement services in partnership with Nielsen Media Research, New York.

"Now, [clients] can see the entire digital media universe and how people interact with different brands and products," Kaldor said.

Digital Media Universe is a service made possible by Net-Ratings’ acquisition in May of a patent previously held by Jupiter Media Metrix for computer-tracking technology that resides on the PCs of its panelists. Once users download applications from the Web, the technology tracks the amount of time the applications are running and how users interact with the applications.

Data collected on Internet usage can be used by application developers, Web publishers, online advertisers and ad agencies to provide more effective marketing, industry experts said.

"We need a measurement solution that measures audience traffic behavior on the entire network, not just part of it," said Janay Collins, product manager at MSN Marketing, a division of Microsoft Corp.

Currently, MSN uses Nielsen//NetRatings’ Audience Measurement Service and Internet Media Strategies to provide audience traffic data on its network of Web sites.

Collins said the new service, which will be available in the fourth quarter, will help MSN understand audience behavior on a wide range of applications such as instant messaging, gaming applications and applications that are running in online and offline modes.

"This is the most significant development we’ve seen from Nielsen//NetRatings in the three years we’ve subscribed to the service," said Jeff Lanctot, director of media at Avenue A, a digital marketing agency based in Seattle.

"Now we can segment desktop applications, Web properties, wireless providers and a host of other things, from media players to media sharing applications," Lanctot said.

The new service will be provided as a free upgrade to existing clients subscribing to the Nielsen//NetRatings Audience Measurement Service.

Competitor comScore Networks, which purchased the Media Metrix audience research division from Jupiter Media Metrix in June, currently provides tracking for Web browsing, AOL proprietary channels and other Internet applications.

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