NEW YORK Digital audience measurement firm Quantcast is building its war chest to take on category leaders with a $20 million round of venture financing.
Polaris Venture Partners and Founder Fund led the Series B round, which the San Francisco-based company said it would use to build out its service to improve the accuracy of Internet audience measurement from the panel-based systems currently used.
"The opportunity is to make it easier for marketers to spend money online," said Konrad Feldman, CEO of Quantcast. "Panel-based research doesn't work well in a fragmented media."
In doing so, Quantcast is taking on big competitors and industry standards, comScore and Nielsen. (The latter is Adweek's parent). Publishers frequently grumble that comScore and Nielsen do not provide accurate counts of their audiences because they track the Internet use of a panel, then extrapolate the results to approximate overall Web usage.
With Quantcast, publishers tag their sites for direct measurement. According to the company, over 20,000 publishers have done so, including Fox, CBS, AccuWeather and IDG.
A data-intensive approach to get to accurate measurement of audience segments is critical for online advertising, currently dominated by direct-response search listings, to lure brand advertisers, Feldman believes.
"The most effective online advertising uses lots of data and it's Google," he said. "The use of data will migrate up the funnel and support all forms of advertising."
The company does not currently charge for its services, offering audience stats for free to visitors of its site. Feldman said down the road Quantcast would serve a valuable role in matching up advertisers with sites that fit their target audiences.
"There are going to be big changes to how the business operates," he said. "We aren't going to be talking about GRPs anymore. It's going to be audience segments. There's going to be a massive transformation over the next five to 10 years."