Bird's eye view of web usage

Auckland based Phoenix Research hopes to avoid the problem that plagued AC Nielsen during its tenure as the country's leading online statistician: home users versus business.

Auckland based Phoenix Research hopes to avoid the problem that plagued AC Nielsen during its tenure as the country's leading online statistician: home users versus business.

Phoenix Research, along with Australian software and metrics company Red Sheriff, won the contract to supply online usage information to a consortium of web publishers and advertising agencies and will begin a series of 4500 interviews starting in August, says general manager Neville Thomson.

Phoenix will provide information on the New Zealand user base - who they are and what they like to do online - while Red Sheriff will provide the site statistics via its software package, which is added to those sites that want to be surveyed. Between the two the consortium of advertisers hope to generate reliable across-the-board figures for New Zealand web usage.

"Our main target area will be the residential consumer and small business, but of course we're also tracking from the other side, from where the user is coming in from so you can pick up the business usage that way," says Thomson.

Phoenix will provide the contextual side of the metric, he says.

"Red Sheriff are using their internet tools to do the measurement and we'll provide the kind of depth, penetration and contextual information about what people are picking up and what proportion of the population are accessing the internet."

Thomson says there are three main areas for Phoenix to work on.

"One is the context for site measurement, statistics and demographics. The second is estimating the total number of individuals accessing the target sites and what they were doing there and why, and the third aspect is to track the trends of internet usage."

Thomson says Phoenix and Red Sheriff are also working together on future internet developments so the ratings don't become irrelevant.

"What's happening, how are the interactions on the internet changing? Are people getting what they want or are they looking for new things? What type of things are they looking for? What do they want to do that they can't at the moment?"

Thomson says Phoenix will be looking at new delivery media, such as broadband connections, as well as mobile data on the new high speed wireless networks.

"One of the key aspects is making sure the methodology can cope with 'fast changing circumstances', things like measurement for WAP phones, 3G and that sort of thing.

We'll look at the migration paths as well. Are they new users coming on to the net or are they existing users transferring from one access method to another?"

Phoenix will supplement the random phone interviews with a series of targeted online surveys on some of the consortium members' websites. Thomson expects initial results to be available in November.

The consortium includes Xtra, Wilson and Horton, Nzoom and INL as well as IDG Communications, publisher of this site.

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