Online ratings firm Hitwise has closed its New Zealand office following the departure of local distributor Paul Hashfield.
The local operation is currently being managed from the company's Australian head office, in Melbourne.
"We do have a New Zealand sales manager, Steve Boyd, who travels to New Zealand once a month," says a Hitwise spokesman.
Hitwise will continue to offer its services in New Zealand, however has no plans to re-establish a presence here at the moment.
Hitwise was one of the main competitors for the online publishers consortium tender for a national online ratings system (RFP goes out for new web ratings service), however Hitwise lost out to Red Sheriff (Publishers choose RedSheriff solution to e-ratings problem).
Hitwise's technology relies in large part on access to ISP server logs. Hitwise doesn't use a sample group, instead taking traffic figures directly from the ISPs to provide what it describes as a more realistic result. However Hitwise never managed to sign up Xtra, the country's largest ISP, and lost ClearNet, then the country's second largest ISP, in a dispute over privacy concerns (Hitwise loses Clear).
In Australia, Hitwise's home territory, the company competes with AC Nielsen, which offers an online measurement service based on a panel of users. AC Nielsen pulled out of the New Zealand online market in 2001 (NetRatings retrenches to Australia) leaving only its TV ratings company in place. AC Nielsen was long criticised for having only a home-user panel rather than deploying a business-based user panel as well.
Red Sheriff employs a different technique again - the company charges websites to place a small amount of code on the site's servers that tracks users through the sites themselves. While Hitwise's service would track all users across all sites in New Zealand, the Red Sheriff service only monitors those sites that sign up for the service.