PLAYING CATCH-UP IN WEB RESEARCH

By: Katy Bachman

Audience Measurement Firms Form Alliances



(Mediaweek) Moving almost as fast as the click of a mouse, Nielsen
NetRatings and Media Metrix have been forming alliances with other
research companies in the hopes of getting a leg up in the race to
establish an Internet audience-ratings standard. While Media Metrix has
been in the Net-ratings business since 1996, Nielsen began marketing
its service just a year ago.



Looking to close the gap between the two rival services, Nielsen
NetRatings last week announced two new strategic alliances. In a
partnership with Spectra, a consumer marketing division of Nielsen
parent VNU USA, NetRatings will provide consumer-profile reports of Web
sites, allowing advertisers to link a site’s visitors with its target
customers. A similar arrangement between NetRatings and Scarborough
Research (a joint venture of VNU and Arbitron) will develop reports on
how consumers are using the Internet in 20 top U.S. markets, expanding
later to include 75. (BPI Communications, another division of VNU USA,
is the publisher of Mediaweek and Editor & Publisher.)



Media Metrix has formed similar partnerships. Last October, the company
linked with Information Resources Inc., allowing MM to link Internet
ratings to consumer purchasing behavior using a single panel. That same
month, MM acquired AdRelevance, which provides tracking data on ad
spending, placement and competitive online-advertising market share.



‘Up until recently, Media Metrix had an advantage,’ said Judy Vogel,
associate media director for BBDO. ‘But Nielsen has gained a lot of
momentum, and they also measure TV. If you have panels that can be
linked together, that’s a leg up.’



Despite their recent progress, it’s a long way off before either
service can hope to be crowned as the standard. ‘It’s going to be a
dogfight,’ noted Brad Adgate, senior vice president and director of
corporate research at Horizon Media. ‘Both are really trying to improve
their services with more data and innovative thinking.’



And there are other Internet ratings services in the wings, including
PC Data and Europe’s NetValue. ‘There are a lot of different points of
view,’ said Jim Spaeth, president of the Advertising Research
Foundation. ‘The next horizon is to figure out what the numbers are
good for and how to use them together.’



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