Interest in online ratings heats up

Interest in the proposed internet ratings forum is increasing, with ratings companies Hitwise and Red Sheriff both keen to offer their services.

Interest in the proposed internet ratings forum is increasing, with ratings companies Hitwise and Red Sheriff both keen to offer their services.

An industry group, made up of web publishers, is meeting next week to discuss ways of replacing the service offered by AC Nielsen, which closed its NetRatings office late last year. NetRatings's panel of users is still running, but reports to Australia.

Hitwise local distributor Paul Hashfield says although he already has contact with most online publishers directly, he would be "ready to respond" to any request for tender put out by the group.

"We already offer all the sorts of things they're talking about overseas so it wouldn't be a stretch to bring them to New Zealand." One of the main advantages of the AC Nielsen panel is its demographic information, so important to advertising agencies.

"The problem is balancing how much data you want with what you're willing to pay for it. I think that was part of the problem AC Nielsen faced."

Red Sheriff New Zealand also claims to be in a position to roll out such services should they be required. Local business development manager Marcus Lloyd says he has been talking with his Australian counterparts about bringing Red Sheriff's online ranking service to New Zealand.

"We'd certainly be interested in taking part in such a thing. We take the view that our figures are independent so users can say that about the data."

Both Red Sheriff and Hitwise gather their traffic information in a different manner to each other and to AC Nielsen. Red Sheriff adds software to a customer's website that tracks visitor numbers while Hitwise has agreements with a number of ISPs to access user logs. AC Nielsen's approach was to set up a panel of carefully selected home-based users and to monitor their online activities.

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