America Online understands and appreciates the importance of timely third-party Web and online research and its ramifications on identifying trends for growth in the Internet online industry. In fact, we are working closely with a number of research companies to develop accurate, timely and relevant information.
This is why we were particularly concerned after reading Adweek’s deadline [IQ News, Feb. 9] about AOL.com’s alleged “declining ratings,” based on Relevant Knowledge’s December research report.
Please note that Relevant Knowledge’s monthly Web-usage measurement reports do not provide accurate usage statistics on AOL.com and fail to accurately communicate the extent of AOL.com’s reach in cyberspace.
Their reports inaccurately represent AOL.com’s true rankings for a number of reasons, as cited below:
The only AOL users measured by Relevant Knowledge’s current methodology are those who have made a conscious decision to purchase, download, install and use Netscape or MSIE browsers-instead of the embedded IE browser that comes in the AOL
service-a set of steps that a vast majority of AOL members do not take.
The panel participants have been told that in order to be “in the study” they need to download, install and use these specific browsers, thereby altering the person’s normal behavior.
In light of the publicity that Relevant Knowledge hopes to gain through their data, we want to ensure that our partners and important media contacts are aware of the serious measurement issues that impact their methodology.
We believe these issues will affect the business of many of those in the industry because those who read press releases and reports are not made clearly aware of the fact that the vast majority of usage of AOL.com cannot, at this time, be measured by Relevant Knowledge.
We also believe that if Relevant Knowledge could accurately measure our members’ Web behavior, AOL.com would hold the position as the No. 1 Web site.
Audrey Weil
Senior vice president of brand marketing
America Online
Dulles, Va.
I’m not sure I understood any of it, but Stacy Wall’s Visitor’s View [Best Spots, Dec. 15] was the best Visitor’s View I’ve ever seen in Adweek.
William G. Hillsman
North Woods Advertising
For the Record
The composer for Pepsi’s “Break-in” commercial [Best Spots 1997, Feb. 2] was Jon Grindstaff of Rocket Music.

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