January 6, 20088 Comments

ON: The Kimberly-Clark Room-A-Day Giveaway Widget

Over the last several months many of you that have followed me via Twitter and Facebook know that my life at TracyLocke has been focused on the creation and development of the Room-A-Day Giveaway promotion for the last 4 months.  From the Website to the Media to the much anticipated Dancing Packages widget, the team at TracyLocke has been having a blast delivering an integrated program that begins on January 15, 2008 kick-off on ABC's The View.

Today we will begin launching the Room-A-Day Widget which is a micro-application that brings back the fan favorite Kimberly-Clark Dancing Packages in a new and exciting way.  Through the use of a "distributed media" approach our Dancing Packages can appear on any HTML page that our core audience wants to post it to.  Designed to create buzz and generate sweepstakes entries, the Dancing Package widget facilitates portable content targeted to hard-to-reach Millennials and other social networkers.

For those of you not apprised of the "distributed media" or "widget" approach here are a few published facts. Chief Marketer in November named the rise of widgets as on of the top ten marketing ideas for 2008. 

The article went on to say:

“Mini-software applications, ‘widgets,’ provide unprecedented access to hard-to-reach targets, as Facebook and MySpace can attest. According to ComScore, 220+ million folks used widgets last May. iLike, which allows Facebook users to share iTunes playlists, grew to over 10 million users in 10 months. Slide, which creates slideshows and embeds them in social network homepages, claims to be the largest personal media network in the world, reaching 120 million viewers monthly. That's but the beginning of the widget avalanche.”

I am incredibly proud of the widget's daily sweepstakes entry functionality.  Having covered the branded widget space for over a year now - this is first time I have seen a branded widget that has functionality allowing viewers to directly enter a sweepstakes and maintain daily entries inside of a widget.  The sweepstakes functionality will be launched on Saturday, Jan. 12, 2008. 

There were many partners, trusted clients and coffee shops I must thank for helping TracyLocke and Kimberly-Clark push the envelope and take a risk on an idea that we hope starts a conversation with our core Gen-X Mom audience!  Today, I am happy to share The Kimberly-Clark Dancing Packages widget with you, my key influencers within the blogging community, whom I hope will enjoy playing with the dances and choosing the venue where they dance.  I encourage you to leave me comments and pass it on!

Please Join me later today for a live broadcast where we will be able to demo the functionality and talk about all the best practices that we helped developed in the creation of this widget!

Visit http://www.roomadaygiveaway.com/dance/

ON: The Kimberly-Clark Room-A-Day Giveaway Widget via @jpenabickley

June 22, 20072 Comments

ON: ComScore’s First Stab @ Widget Metrics

More on the topic of widgets...ComScore has announced Widget Metrix, a new service to track the usage of widgets on web sites and blogs.

Now you ask yourself....

What is a widgets? and How might my brand use one? 
A widget is a mini application that either sits on your desktop, in your dashboard or in an HTML web page.  At it heart a widget is a portable chunk of code that can be installed and executed within any separate HTML-based web page by an end user without requiring additional compilation.
They are akin to plugins or extensions in desktop applications. Other
terms used to describe a web widget include gadget, badge, module,
capsule, snippet, mini and flake. Web widgets often but not always use Adobe Flash or JavaScript programming languages.

I have several examples of widgets on this blog.  You can find widgets on TypePad and other web services things like Lijit (search), MyBlogLog (readers photos), Feedburner (subscriptions) and 
Twitter(REALLY ON:).

Other examples are things like stock tickers, news feeds,
and of course, Google's AdSense widget which delivers ads to web sites
and blogs. See my earlier post on widgets for more background on widgets.

The Wall Street Journal has a story on the widget economy and produced this graphic of the ComScore results.  I am surprised by the initial measurement results. I would have
guessed Photobucket to be the most used widget given its enormous usage
on MySpace. Other surprises...YouTube doesn't show up in the top 10 but
Brightcove does? Congrats to Jeremy Allaire from Brightcove
registering 16.9 million unique visitors. Quite Impressive!

Widget

I suspect (because i am suspicious of a metric that does not take in to account all widgets..especially the ones that have been around the longest) that the stats are incomplete because ComScore only
tracks flash based widgets.

See this definition of widgets from
ComScore.

The
current universe of widgets is defined as embedded flash (.swf)
objects. The comScore Widget Metrix service will evolve in its tracking
of widget file types as the market dynamics and content delivery
systems change.  The report currently focuses on the individual
widgets, and not the platforms that deliver them.  Desktop widgets are
also not included.

Widgets
are growing in popularity. Companies like Clearspring (
Clearspring, a widget distribution company, just signed a big deal to be the exclusive widget platform for NBC.) have figured out
how to deliver a widget platforms that leave the control of the content and
monetization in the hands of the content owners, but still allow consumers
to freely use the widget anywhere they want.

It is WOM growth while still
maintaining a little control.

ON: ComScore’s First Stab @ Widget Metrics via @jpenabickley

March 25, 2007No Comments

ON: Piczo and Microsoft

Just got word through my Twitter community that Piczo is set to announce an ad deal with Microsoft on Monday. 

However, this isn’t a Facebook-type deal, or one that will be considered a consolation prize as Google sneaks away with ad deals for MySpace and Friendster. This is smaller and UK-only.  Microsoft Digital
Advertising Solutions becomes Piczo’s exclusive UK ad sales partner
across all communication formats and market categories. Piczo is handing over its UK ad sales to Microsoft.

Piczo claims 25 million users globally, 2 billion pageviews
monthly and a reach that extends to two-thirds of UK teens according
to ComScore. Look out for a Microsoft announcement on Monday.

ON: Piczo and Microsoft via @jpenabickley

March 22, 20071 Comment

ON: Visits’ The New Measure of Web-User Engagement

comScore is adding a new metric, "visits" - which the measurement
firm defines as the number of distinct times people visit a site per
day, with at least 30 minutes between each visit - which could
potentially replace the pageview as a key advertiser metric, reports ClickZ (via MarketingVox).

Whereas pageviews generate a raw number of
how many pages on the site were hit in a given period, visits point to
a user's engagement with the site. Tracking visits, comScore says, will
give a picture of how many times the same person comes back, indicating
the level of loyalty toward the site.

Another driving force behind a new metric is that non-HTML
web-authoring technologies such as Flash and AJAX do not create pages
per se; therefore, pageviews don't, as a practical matter, exist and so
aren't recorded - even though a user may be interacting with the site.
Developers use these technologies because they build slicker and more
user-friendly sites.

One problem for advertisers is that visits, unlike pageviews, don't
correspond to ad impressions. But coupling visits with a site's reach
and the length of each stay offers a fuller picture of the site's
audience.

ON: Visits’ The New Measure of Web-User Engagement via @jpenabickley

February 19, 20071 Comment

ON: Online Sales of Flowers and Greeting Cards Jump 98 Percent in the Week Before Valentine’s Day

comScore Networks, a leader in
the measuring the digital age, today released
a study on e-commerce activity related to Valentine’s Day.  While several online retail categories
experienced significant sales increases in the week preceding the holiday,
flowers and greeting cards saw the most dramatic gains. 

Compared to the average of the previous four
weeks, online sales in the category increased 98 percent to $24.5 million
during the week ending February 11.  Jewelry
and watches also saw a bump in sales to $24.7 million, up 22 percent versus the
prior weeks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Valentine's
  Day Related E-Commerce

 

Online
  Consumer Spending ($ Millions)

 

Five Weeks
  Ending February 11, 2007

 

Source:
  comScore Networks

 

 

 

 

 

Millions ($)

 

 

E-Commerce
  Category

 

 

Avg of 4 Weeks Ending Feb. 4

 

 

Week Ending Feb. 11

 

 

Percentage Increase

 

 

Flowers
  & Greeting Cards

 

 

$12.4

 

 

$24.5

 

 

98%

 

 

Jewelry
  & Watches

 

 

$20.3

 

 

$24.7

 

 

22%

 

 

In recent years, consumers
have increasingly turned to the Web for Valentine’s Day gifts.  Flowers, which are always a sentimental favorite, have experienced the
most noticeable spikes in online sales.  By fulfilling orders through local florists, online flower
retailers have been especially effective in executing on-time deliveries for
Valentine’s Day, which has proven to be a godsend for many last minute
shoppers.

American Greetings Property Most Popular Online
Retailer for Flowers, Gifts and Greeting Cards

In January, more than 29
million Americans visited the Flowers, Gifts & Greeting Cards retail category,
representing approximately one out of every six U.S. Internet users.  The American Greetings Property led the
category with 8.1 million visitors, followed by Hallmark (5.6 million visitors)
and RedEnvelope.com (1.9 million visitors).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visitation
  to Flowers, Gifts & Greeting Cards Category

 

Unique
  Visitors (000)

 

January
  2007

 

U.S.
  Home, Work & University Locations

 

Source:
  comScore Media Metrix

 

 

 

 

 

Unique Visitors (000)

 

 

Total Internet : Total Audience

 

 

175,559

 

 

Flowers/Gifts/Greeting Cards

 

 

29,353

 

 

American
  Greetings Property

 

 

8,120

 

 

Hallmark

 

 

5,601

 

 

REDENVELOPE.COM

 

 

1,886

 

 

1-800-FLOWERS.COM

 

 

1,679

 

 

Martha
  Stewart Sites

 

 

1,495

 

 

Celebrate
  Express, Inc.

 

 

1,389

 

 

WEDDINGCHANNEL.COM

 

 

1,245

 

 

FTD.COM

 

 

1,163

 

 

PROFLOWERS.COM

 

 

1,124

 

 

Build-A-Bear
  Workshop, Inc.

 

 

1,117

 

ON: Online Sales of Flowers and Greeting Cards Jump 98 Percent in the Week Before Valentine’s Day via @jpenabickley

February 19, 20071 Comment

ON: Online Sales of Flowers and Greeting Cards Jump 98 Percent in the Week Before Valentine’s Day

comScore Networks, a leader in
the measuring the digital age, today released
a study on e-commerce activity related to Valentine’s Day.  While several online retail categories
experienced significant sales increases in the week preceding the holiday,
flowers and greeting cards saw the most dramatic gains. 

Compared to the average of the previous four
weeks, online sales in the category increased 98 percent to $24.5 million
during the week ending February 11.  Jewelry
and watches also saw a bump in sales to $24.7 million, up 22 percent versus the
prior weeks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Valentine's
  Day Related E-Commerce

 

Online
  Consumer Spending ($ Millions)

 

Five Weeks
  Ending February 11, 2007

 

Source:
  comScore Networks

 

 

 

 

 

Millions ($)

 

 

E-Commerce
  Category

 

 

Avg of 4 Weeks Ending Feb. 4

 

 

Week Ending Feb. 11

 

 

Percentage Increase

 

 

Flowers
  & Greeting Cards

 

 

$12.4

 

 

$24.5

 

 

98%

 

 

Jewelry
  & Watches

 

 

$20.3

 

 

$24.7

 

 

22%

 

 

In recent years, consumers
have increasingly turned to the Web for Valentine’s Day gifts.  Flowers, which are always a sentimental favorite, have experienced the
most noticeable spikes in online sales.  By fulfilling orders through local florists, online flower
retailers have been especially effective in executing on-time deliveries for
Valentine’s Day, which has proven to be a godsend for many last minute
shoppers.

American Greetings Property Most Popular Online
Retailer for Flowers, Gifts and Greeting Cards

In January, more than 29
million Americans visited the Flowers, Gifts & Greeting Cards retail category,
representing approximately one out of every six U.S. Internet users.  The American Greetings Property led the
category with 8.1 million visitors, followed by Hallmark (5.6 million visitors)
and RedEnvelope.com (1.9 million visitors).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visitation
  to Flowers, Gifts & Greeting Cards Category

 

Unique
  Visitors (000)

 

January
  2007

 

U.S.
  Home, Work & University Locations

 

Source:
  comScore Media Metrix

 

 

 

 

 

Unique Visitors (000)

 

 

Total Internet : Total Audience

 

 

175,559

 

 

Flowers/Gifts/Greeting Cards

 

 

29,353

 

 

American
  Greetings Property

 

 

8,120

 

 

Hallmark

 

 

5,601

 

 

REDENVELOPE.COM

 

 

1,886

 

 

1-800-FLOWERS.COM

 

 

1,679

 

 

Martha
  Stewart Sites

 

 

1,495

 

 

Celebrate
  Express, Inc.

 

 

1,389

 

 

WEDDINGCHANNEL.COM

 

 

1,245

 

 

FTD.COM

 

 

1,163

 

 

PROFLOWERS.COM

 

 

1,124

 

 

Build-A-Bear
  Workshop, Inc.

 

 

1,117

 

ON: Online Sales of Flowers and Greeting Cards Jump 98 Percent in the Week Before Valentine’s Day via @jpenabickley

February 19, 20071 Comment

ON: Online Sales of Flowers and Greeting Cards Jump 98 Percent in the Week Before Valentine’s Day

comScore Networks, a leader in
the measuring the digital age, today released
a study on e-commerce activity related to Valentine’s Day.  While several online retail categories
experienced significant sales increases in the week preceding the holiday,
flowers and greeting cards saw the most dramatic gains. 

Compared to the average of the previous four
weeks, online sales in the category increased 98 percent to $24.5 million
during the week ending February 11.  Jewelry
and watches also saw a bump in sales to $24.7 million, up 22 percent versus the
prior weeks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Valentine's
  Day Related E-Commerce

 

Online
  Consumer Spending ($ Millions)

 

Five Weeks
  Ending February 11, 2007

 

Source:
  comScore Networks

 

 

 

 

 

Millions ($)

 

 

E-Commerce
  Category

 

 

Avg of 4 Weeks Ending Feb. 4

 

 

Week Ending Feb. 11

 

 

Percentage Increase

 

 

Flowers
  & Greeting Cards

 

 

$12.4

 

 

$24.5

 

 

98%

 

 

Jewelry
  & Watches

 

 

$20.3

 

 

$24.7

 

 

22%

 

 

In recent years, consumers
have increasingly turned to the Web for Valentine’s Day gifts.  Flowers, which are always a sentimental favorite, have experienced the
most noticeable spikes in online sales.  By fulfilling orders through local florists, online flower
retailers have been especially effective in executing on-time deliveries for
Valentine’s Day, which has proven to be a godsend for many last minute
shoppers.

American Greetings Property Most Popular Online
Retailer for Flowers, Gifts and Greeting Cards

In January, more than 29
million Americans visited the Flowers, Gifts & Greeting Cards retail category,
representing approximately one out of every six U.S. Internet users.  The American Greetings Property led the
category with 8.1 million visitors, followed by Hallmark (5.6 million visitors)
and RedEnvelope.com (1.9 million visitors).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visitation
  to Flowers, Gifts & Greeting Cards Category

 

Unique
  Visitors (000)

 

January
  2007

 

U.S.
  Home, Work & University Locations

 

Source:
  comScore Media Metrix

 

 

 

 

 

Unique Visitors (000)

 

 

Total Internet : Total Audience

 

 

175,559

 

 

Flowers/Gifts/Greeting Cards

 

 

29,353

 

 

American
  Greetings Property

 

 

8,120

 

 

Hallmark

 

 

5,601

 

 

REDENVELOPE.COM

 

 

1,886

 

 

1-800-FLOWERS.COM

 

 

1,679

 

 

Martha
  Stewart Sites

 

 

1,495

 

 

Celebrate
  Express, Inc.

 

 

1,389

 

 

WEDDINGCHANNEL.COM

 

 

1,245

 

 

FTD.COM

 

 

1,163

 

 

PROFLOWERS.COM

 

 

1,124

 

 

Build-A-Bear
  Workshop, Inc.

 

 

1,117

 

ON: Online Sales of Flowers and Greeting Cards Jump 98 Percent in the Week Before Valentine’s Day via @jpenabickley

February 9, 20079 Comments

ON: Widgets – Not just a toys anymore

Picture_1_25

Some of the best data on the growth of social networks is coming out
of the widget startups.
People put widgets on their various social
network user pages, and traffic is referred back to the widget
companies. Other than policy changes
that can have a significant impact on widget usage, it is the best
traffic data available outside of the social networks themselves.

What I’m hearing from some of those widget companies is that San Francisco-based Hi5,
already a big network and rumored to be quite profitable, is surging. Traffic is up 15% month over month, and Hi5 looks like it’s second
only to MySpace at this point. They are clearly bigger than all the second tier
social networks - Piczo, Bebo, Tagged, etc.”

The available third party data is mostly agreeing. Hi5 has a large
presence in the U.S., but the bulk of its usage is in other countries.
That may explain why Comscore, which puts them at the 79th largest
website based on 23 million worldwide unique visitors in December (just
ahead of Facebook, which is no. 83 overall), shows a declining U.S.
audience. U.S. uniques declined to 3 million in December, down from a
high of just over 4 million in July 2006. Hi5 claims to have 50 million
registered users, which sounds about right given the 23 million monthly
unique visitor number.

Alexa shows significant growth as well, although Compete has a different story, more closely mirroring Comscore’s U.S. data.

http://www.hairy-mail.com/social/message.swf

ON: Widgets – Not just a toys anymore via @jpenabickley

December 19, 2006No Comments

ON: MySpace Beatdown of Yahoo

Picture_8
The debate over which site had the most November page views reflects
the difficulty of tallying Web traffic, and billions of ad dollars are
at stake.  On the Web, the competition for most popular site can be as intense as
the race for the pennant or even the Presidency. So news that
up-and-comer MySpace.com beat incumbent Yahoo! (YHOO) for most monthly page views for the first time in November understandably grabbed headlines.

According to comScore Networks, News Corp.'s (NWS)
MySpace racked up 38.7 billion page views in November, compared with
38.1 billion for longtime leader Yahoo. But the dispatches concerning
the upset were the online equivalent of the famous headline "Dewey
Beats Truman."

Almost immediately, the results were called into question. UBS (UBS)
analyst Benjamin Schachter left voicemail messages for investors and
reporters warning against making decisions on comScore's potentially
unreliable data. Yahoo was still the undisputed leader, measured by
other key metrics, including unique visitors and time spent on the
site. Besides, Nielsen//NetRatings (NTRT),
comScore's main competitor, still had Yahoo leading page views in
November: 33.4 billion, vs. 29 billion for MySpace and the rest of News
Corp.'s Fox Interactive Media properties.

Focusing on Ad Impressions

Picture_9
The discrepancy has revived complaints about the accuracy of
reporting agencies' results, which often differ from companies' own
audience measurements (see BusinessWeek.com, 10/23/06, "Web Numbers: What's Real").
It also underscores the rivalry between comScore and
Nielsen//NetRatings for recognition as the most trusted source for
Web-traffic data. The winner, if one emerges, may set the standard for
how site popularity is measured, influencing how marketers dole out
billions in online ad dollars each year. Recognizing the high stakes in
that tussle, comScore and Nielsen//NetRatings both are refining their
tactics.

For starters, in the first quarter of 2007, comScore plans to change
how it determines the amount of advertising a Web company shows its
audience. To do that, comScore will focus on ad impressions, or the
number of times an ad shows up on a page, rather than the number of
times a Web page is viewed. The results can vary, depending on how a
Web page is designed.

For example, Yahoo and Google (GOOG)
are among companies that use a technology called Ajax that can change
an ad, influencing the number of ad impressions, even if the user
doesn't refresh or click to a different page. Yahoo attributed the 9%
drop in its page views, which allowed MySpace to overtake it, to its
inclusion of Ajax. Thus, page views—long used by industry analysts to
estimate how many ads a company can serve and, thus, potential
revenue—is no longer a reliable measurement.

Time Spent on a Site

ComScore is also planning to launch a set of entirely new ad metrics
in the second quarter of 2007, according to comScore Chief Executive
Officer Magid Abraham. "We are developing some proprietary metrics that
are a much better replacement for page views and are actually a better
measure of engagement," says Abraham.

Abraham is tight-lipped about specifics, but he says the new
techniques will better reflect the influence of new technologies. The
company will focus more on time spent on a site than page views. It's
worth noting that, by that estimate, Yahoo is the clear winner. Its
users spent 42.7 billion minutes on its pages in November. MySpace's
users spent a total of 13.8 billion minutes, says Abraham. 

Nielsen//NetRatings is also working on its measurement techniques in
response to new technologies. The firm developed a proposal several
months ago on how to track Ajax and improve tracking on other
technologies such as streaming media, says Manish Bhatia, NetRatings'
vice-president of global operations and U.S. sales.

Getting Certified

Changing the metrics alone, however, isn't enough to satisfy
everyone. The Interactive Advertising Bureau, an organization of
advertisers and major Web companies, is calling for an external audit
of both comScore and NetRatings by the Media Ratings Council, the body
that certifies measurement practices of media ratings firms such as
radio's Arbitron (ARB).
"At this point, the only thing we know is that the results are
consistently different. What we don't know is why," says Sheryl
Draizen, IAB's senior vice-president and general manager. "The
differences between the numbers reported by comScore and NetRatings are
obviously a big issue for the industry as a whole."

Both comScore and NetRatings say they have begun working with the
MRC to get certified. But Draizen says the process is not happening
fast enough. "It should be a major priority for them," she says. "It is
a real issue to have such different numbers in the marketplace."

For Internet companies and advertisers, determining whose numbers
are correct is more important than just crowning the rightful platform
king. At stake are the tens of billions of advertising dollars destined
for the Web. Internet advertising is estimated to reach $16.4 billion
this year, according to research firm eMarketer. The number is expected
to grow to $25.2 billion in 2010. Which companies get that money,
particularly dollars earmarked for promoting brands and not just
directly selling merchandise, will depend largely on who can verify
their ad inventory and the size, composition, and engagement of their
audience.

May the Best Metric Win

ComScore and NetRatings each believes its own methods the best.
ComScore insists that its method of allowing new measurement methods
will establish it as the clear innovator. It also boasts that it is
able to better measure college students because it offers its software
for download over the Internet in exchange for games, screensavers,
security software and other items. "We feel we have the advantage,"
says Abraham.

Nielsen has an edge with its study panel, which was selected via
random telephone polls and thus, according to Bhatia, more
representative of the general population. He argues that only a
particular kind of computer user is comfortable downloading free
software over the Internet. "Fundamentally, the quality of the result
comes from the quality of the underlying panel," says Bhatia.

Who will win? That will depend largely on who is able to respond
fastest to the new technologies that impair the relevance of old
metrics, says Peter Daboll, a former president of comScore who now
heads Yahoo's global market research department. "Internal server log
data, panels—all have their limitations," says Daboll. "I think frankly
we just need more innovation."

 

 

ON: MySpace Beatdown of Yahoo via @jpenabickley

December 19, 2006No Comments

ON: MySpace Beatdown of Yahoo

Picture_8
The debate over which site had the most November page views reflects
the difficulty of tallying Web traffic, and billions of ad dollars are
at stake.  On the Web, the competition for most popular site can be as intense as
the race for the pennant or even the Presidency. So news that
up-and-comer MySpace.com beat incumbent Yahoo! (YHOO) for most monthly page views for the first time in November understandably grabbed headlines.

According to comScore Networks, News Corp.'s (NWS)
MySpace racked up 38.7 billion page views in November, compared with
38.1 billion for longtime leader Yahoo. But the dispatches concerning
the upset were the online equivalent of the famous headline "Dewey
Beats Truman."

Almost immediately, the results were called into question. UBS (UBS)
analyst Benjamin Schachter left voicemail messages for investors and
reporters warning against making decisions on comScore's potentially
unreliable data. Yahoo was still the undisputed leader, measured by
other key metrics, including unique visitors and time spent on the
site. Besides, Nielsen//NetRatings (NTRT),
comScore's main competitor, still had Yahoo leading page views in
November: 33.4 billion, vs. 29 billion for MySpace and the rest of News
Corp.'s Fox Interactive Media properties.

Focusing on Ad Impressions

Picture_9
The discrepancy has revived complaints about the accuracy of
reporting agencies' results, which often differ from companies' own
audience measurements (see BusinessWeek.com, 10/23/06, "Web Numbers: What's Real").
It also underscores the rivalry between comScore and
Nielsen//NetRatings for recognition as the most trusted source for
Web-traffic data. The winner, if one emerges, may set the standard for
how site popularity is measured, influencing how marketers dole out
billions in online ad dollars each year. Recognizing the high stakes in
that tussle, comScore and Nielsen//NetRatings both are refining their
tactics.

For starters, in the first quarter of 2007, comScore plans to change
how it determines the amount of advertising a Web company shows its
audience. To do that, comScore will focus on ad impressions, or the
number of times an ad shows up on a page, rather than the number of
times a Web page is viewed. The results can vary, depending on how a
Web page is designed.

For example, Yahoo and Google (GOOG)
are among companies that use a technology called Ajax that can change
an ad, influencing the number of ad impressions, even if the user
doesn't refresh or click to a different page. Yahoo attributed the 9%
drop in its page views, which allowed MySpace to overtake it, to its
inclusion of Ajax. Thus, page views—long used by industry analysts to
estimate how many ads a company can serve and, thus, potential
revenue—is no longer a reliable measurement.

Time Spent on a Site

ComScore is also planning to launch a set of entirely new ad metrics
in the second quarter of 2007, according to comScore Chief Executive
Officer Magid Abraham. "We are developing some proprietary metrics that
are a much better replacement for page views and are actually a better
measure of engagement," says Abraham.

Abraham is tight-lipped about specifics, but he says the new
techniques will better reflect the influence of new technologies. The
company will focus more on time spent on a site than page views. It's
worth noting that, by that estimate, Yahoo is the clear winner. Its
users spent 42.7 billion minutes on its pages in November. MySpace's
users spent a total of 13.8 billion minutes, says Abraham. 

Nielsen//NetRatings is also working on its measurement techniques in
response to new technologies. The firm developed a proposal several
months ago on how to track Ajax and improve tracking on other
technologies such as streaming media, says Manish Bhatia, NetRatings'
vice-president of global operations and U.S. sales.

Getting Certified

Changing the metrics alone, however, isn't enough to satisfy
everyone. The Interactive Advertising Bureau, an organization of
advertisers and major Web companies, is calling for an external audit
of both comScore and NetRatings by the Media Ratings Council, the body
that certifies measurement practices of media ratings firms such as
radio's Arbitron (ARB).
"At this point, the only thing we know is that the results are
consistently different. What we don't know is why," says Sheryl
Draizen, IAB's senior vice-president and general manager. "The
differences between the numbers reported by comScore and NetRatings are
obviously a big issue for the industry as a whole."

Both comScore and NetRatings say they have begun working with the
MRC to get certified. But Draizen says the process is not happening
fast enough. "It should be a major priority for them," she says. "It is
a real issue to have such different numbers in the marketplace."

For Internet companies and advertisers, determining whose numbers
are correct is more important than just crowning the rightful platform
king. At stake are the tens of billions of advertising dollars destined
for the Web. Internet advertising is estimated to reach $16.4 billion
this year, according to research firm eMarketer. The number is expected
to grow to $25.2 billion in 2010. Which companies get that money,
particularly dollars earmarked for promoting brands and not just
directly selling merchandise, will depend largely on who can verify
their ad inventory and the size, composition, and engagement of their
audience.

May the Best Metric Win

ComScore and NetRatings each believes its own methods the best.
ComScore insists that its method of allowing new measurement methods
will establish it as the clear innovator. It also boasts that it is
able to better measure college students because it offers its software
for download over the Internet in exchange for games, screensavers,
security software and other items. "We feel we have the advantage,"
says Abraham.

Nielsen has an edge with its study panel, which was selected via
random telephone polls and thus, according to Bhatia, more
representative of the general population. He argues that only a
particular kind of computer user is comfortable downloading free
software over the Internet. "Fundamentally, the quality of the result
comes from the quality of the underlying panel," says Bhatia.

Who will win? That will depend largely on who is able to respond
fastest to the new technologies that impair the relevance of old
metrics, says Peter Daboll, a former president of comScore who now
heads Yahoo's global market research department. "Internal server log
data, panels—all have their limitations," says Daboll. "I think frankly
we just need more innovation."

 

 

ON: MySpace Beatdown of Yahoo via @jpenabickley
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