Online publishers put out feelers for new ratings tool

The online publishing industry is to put out a request for information on a new way of measuring web ratings some time in the next month.

The group, comprising TVNZ's Nzoom website, Telecom's Xtra, Stuff owner INL, NZ Herald online publisher Wilson and Horton, IDGNet owner IDG Communications, NetGuide publishers Industrial Press and the Communications Agency of New Zealand, which represents advertising agencies, is drafting a list of what it needs and wants from such a service.

The decision to get together was prompted by the closure of ACNielsen's web ratings office in New Zealand last year. Most of the publishers subscribe to the service, which continues to measure the usage of 2900 home-based Kiwi users from Sydney, but decided to meet about a replacement service.

According to Xtra marketing manager Chris Thompson, online publishers have been asking for a panel of work-based users, but to no avail. He says AC Nielsen's service was regarded as "the best of a bad bunch".

At a meeting last month the publishers realised there was no single measurement method every one could agree on.

"Magazines have ABC figures and television has peoplemeters," says Thompson. "The industry may love or hate them but they agree that that's the way to measure the business. The internet industry hasn't got to that stage and it became clear that everyone was facing the same issue."

The industry's demands include the measurement of unique users and the time spent on each site, indications of traffic volume and demographic information on users.

"The solutions available haven't been driven by the needs of subscribers but by what people can do technically. We have drafted a list of needs that people are reviewing. After that we'll go out to the measurement vendors."

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