Web ratings game heats up

The Australian Web measurement company Sinewave Interactive is set to follow Nielsen NetRatings into the New Zealand market within a month.

The Australian Web measurement company Sinewave Interactive is set to follow Nielsen NetRatings into the New Zealand market within a month.

Sinewave's arrival will give New Zealand companies the ability to compare between two quite different methodologies.

Nielsen assesses its ratings by monitoring the clickstreams of a demographically profiled panel of around 3780 New Zealand users. Sinewave gets its information from ISP proxy logs - recording the behaviour of many more users, but without the demographic profiles beloved of media planners.

Sinewave's international development manager Brendan McKeegan says his company is already collecting data from the proxy logs of several New Zealand ISPs and has signed a heads of agreement with a local partner.

McKeegan says Sinewave doesn't reveal which ISPs with which it has data agreements ("that provides an opportunity for people to target their proxy servers") but says it will state what percentage of the local user base it is tracking when it launches.

McKeegan says Sinewave positions itself as a complimentary service to Nielsen NetRatings.

"They can accurately measure perhaps between the top 25 and 50 Web properties. We can measure to a far greater depth - in Australia we go down to over 20,000 sites. Just because of the sheer volume of data we can collect we can provide a service to those Website owners outside the top 25 or 50 sites."

He says Nielsen is "a particular tool for a particular audience, and that audience typically is large companies, advertisers, media buyers and planners who are interested in those large sites. We take the view that the Internet is very a self-selected environment and a lot of niche markets exist on the Internet."

Jean-Louis Nives senior vice president, global sales and client service for ACNielsen eRatings.com, who flew in this week for the NetRatings April data launch, says the demographic information is not the only advantage of NetRatings' panel-based system, pointing out that it also logs page views from the user's internal browser cache, which do not show up on server logs.

"And quite frankly those are eyeballs and impression that we think should be credited. If you look at somewhere like Microsoft, 40% of their page views are from cache. We're also tracking what eyeballs - not what Web crawlers come into your site.

"We think site-centric information is critical because we want to understand what your business is. What we have now is a consistent methodology to capture what your site and all your competitors' sites are doing, both within New Zealand and around the world. We're reallly trying to create a common demoninator so that people can compare in a consistent, global fashion."

Nielsen runs an at-work Internet use panel in the US, something it is still working on here. The challenge for both companies may be a matter of who gets first, best look at users of the biggest free ISP of them all - the Boss.

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