Audience measurement in the digital sphere has produced inconsistent results because of the mixture of panel-based and server-based data. Today comScore announced MediaMetrix 360, a hybrid model it says will balance the two forms of measurement to produce accurate audience information.
The implications are significant for online organizations and advertisers alike in that they're bound to clarify the size and qualities of audiences. Critics contend that panel-based data undercounts and server-based data overcounts the audience.
The service will roll out in August in the U.S. and Canada.
For some time now it was expected Google, the largest ad server, would create a new service to try to be the largest ad measurer.
Today it has rolled out Google Ad Planner. It measures Internet use by largely drawing upon activity from servers, unlike the comScore and Nielsen Media measurement tools, which use panels to determine activity. Ad Planner will permit advertisers to enter their targeted audience and find sites most likely to match up with those targets.
The optimistic prospect for the service would marry it to Google's ad server to ideally place content in front of the right audience. Last week a more generic version of this traffic monitor was released.
Naturally it strikes fear in both the incumbents and the overall industry, which already has a fairly significant connection to Google and may not like the idea of further dependence. Until something more accurate comes along, though, advertisers are bound to want to spend more precisely.
Huge international growth from Facebook has brought it alongside MySpace in the social network field. Each has about 115 million unique visitors a month.
The latest comScore data demonstrates a very robust spring for Facebook growth, but it is principally outside of the U.S., where MySpace maintains a very substantial edge --- 72 million to 36 million (although that latter number is up from 23 million only a year ago).
I've been trying to decipher the meaning of the click-through difficulties (AP story) for Google, because the impact on the media economy has enormous potential.
What's clear is that comScore is tabulating weakness in Google's click-through rate --- and has been for two months now --- which in turn guides the advertising revenue stream for the online advertising behemoth.
What's also clear is that Google is doing much to crack down on fraudulent and accidental clicks, a painful short-term move that could have long-term benefits in creating an advertising model with greater integrity.
The real concern, though, is that users are getting ad fatigue online and that Google's rapier targeting of paid search ads might be losing its appeal to the targeted.
The next few months in a downturned U.S. advertising market will tell an important tale.
It's possible that the relative excitement of clicking through to a product site or a service provider has waned. Some of the more dynamic, interactive ad models have been appealing, but it doesn't feel like we've entered an era of Ad 2.0.
Content providers are already scratching their heads about the digital business model. What if advertisers start doing the same?
A critical challenge for newspapers is to engage non-newspaper readers now online.
A new comScore study has some interesting and positive findings.
It found that those who don't consumer a printed paper are, as one might expect, younger. But they aren't necessarily light news consumers. Quite the opposite, in fact. They visit a lot of news sites.
Both heavy and non-print readers frequently surf recognized news brands, which suggests the brands themselves have stand-alone qualities online.
And they like the TV brands online, pointing to the need for audio and video in any offering.
It was too weird to seem true: Google experiencing something approaching recessionary economic results due to a decline in the click-through rate on its ads. Was this another dot-com meltdown in the making?
Well, comScore has issued a statement explaining its earlier results. It argues that Google has been trying to strengthen its standards, meaning there are fewer paid ad opportunities --- thus the seven-per-cent decline.
As in, never mind.
As an addendum to yesterday's posting, today's Wall Street Journal outlines new data from comScore, the Internet tabulator, on the declining click-through rates in the early part of this year for search ads at Google and Yahoo!
Now, it may be that higher pricing more than offsets any traffic slowdown in generating revenue, but the Journal suggests Internet advertising may not be as recession-resistant as first thought in the U.S.