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Nielsen Expands Reach of Web Measurement

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Nielsen’s Internet measurement panel is now eight times larger than it used to be--allowing the audience research firm to measure traffic on 10 times as many sites as its previous sample, according to company officials.

The Web researcher—which like Mediaweek is owned by The Nielsen Company—claims it now has the ability to garner audience data for 30,000 Web sites, up from the 3,000 or so it has recently been able track. Such a sizable increase in panel size should go a long way in answering critics, who have complained in recent years that panel-based metrics firms like Nielsen and comScore do just fine in offering data on the audiences of top 200-plus sites--but lack a large enough sample to provide insight into the Internet’s long tail.

Nielsen officials are touting that capability, as well as the new larger panel’s ability to yield better measurement of specific demographics such as Hispanics and teens, as well as more accurate representations of households with multiple computers. Plus, Nielsen customers will have access to more sophisticated planning tools, including media staples like reach and frequency analyses, and should be able to receive more actionable cross-platform audience data, according to company executives.

"There is incredible demand for more accurate, reliable and high-quality Web audience measurement,” said John Burbank, CEO of Nielsen Online. “Nielsen’s new panel is a huge leap forward in measurement to address that need.” Indeed, industry pressure on Nielsen Online has mounted of late, as rival comScore last month released Media Metrix 360, a new product which combines panel and site-level server data. Plus, emerging analytics companies like Quantcast and Compete are offering numerous free tools which often promise more granular audience data for smaller sites.

In order to ensure the new larger panel’s would be both more robust and more useful, Nielsen said it worked closely with multiple clients as well as the Media Ratings Council while developing the product. Several top publishers and ad agencies have already weighed in positively. “This is a much awaited and much appreciated upgrade from Nielsen," said Judit Nagy, vp of research, Fox Audience Network in a statement.

Added Yaakov Kimelfeld, senior vp, digital research and analytics director, MediaVest Worldwide: "This release gives us the rich data for both media planning and campaign effectiveness analyses we need. We fully expect to gain fresh in-depth insights into online behaviors and to uncover audience trends that previously passed below the radar.”