New Zealand shares the highest Internet penetration rates in the Asia-Pacific region with Singapore, according to new AC Nielsen research.
While Australia has the region's biggest market, with 4.4 million Internet users, New Zealand and Singapore have more regular users, with 34% of respondents reporting Internet use in the last four weeks, compared to 29% of Australians. More than half of all New Zealanders now have some access to the Internet.
Two years ago, the penetration rates, as measured by Nielsen's Global NetWatch survey, were 23% in New Zealand, 24% in Singapore and 19% in Australia.
Nielsen released the new results yesterday to fire up the local launch of AC Nielsen eRatings.com, which brings the PeopleMeter concept to home and work PCs by installing software that directly measures and tracks the Internet use of sample user panels.
New Zealand, Singapore and Australia are, along with the UK and Ireland, the first five non-US countries to be included in the $US50 million eRatings.com project.
The new venture's president, Bill Pulver, says the fact that all five countries are English-speaking was a factor in the choice. Nielsen's 20% partner in eRatings.com, NetRatings, has already developed Windows, Mac and Unix versions of the metering software, but localising it for non-English-speaking countries will be a major task.
Pulver says eRatings.com aims to roll out in 18 countries in its first year and more than 30 countries in its second. He says the return on the $50m investment will be "not that fast. It's probably a three to four year break-even cycle.
"Obviously this is a big piece of the future that we're looking at with this business. The Internet explosion is enormously significant from a research perspective. We want to get ourselves into a position where we have a global currency for measuring it in short time.
" We expect this to allow us to build relationships with a very broad range of clients. We have an opportunity to develop relationships with content providers, agencies, media companies, e-commerce companies and with all sorts of financial institutions who can potentially use this sort of data to try and value Internet stocks."
The eRatings.com service will begin by delivering monthly results to clients, but weekly and even overnight reporting will be available in future.
Pulver says turning the Internet using world into one big market is "the essence of our strategy. The Internet is the ultimate borderless medium. Our approach is to get this technology in a global panel of Internet users, whether they're at home or work - and then we can cut and slice the data any way we like.
"People in New Zealand are accessing Websites all around the world, and people internationally are coming into New Zealand sites. There's going to be a need to measure the entire global environment regardless of what country you reside in."
Bill Pulver is the subject of this week's @IDG Friday Fry-Up interview at www.idg.co.nz.