New Ratings Option for Internet Traffic

NEW YORK Start-up ratings service Quantcast is gaining momentum with clients seeking an alternative way to measure Web traffic.

Last week, the firm announced $20 million in financing. Recently, digital ad vet Adam Gerber became CMO. And Quantcast has signed up 20,000 publishers to participate in its “qualified publisher program,” including sites operated by CBS, Fox and Belo.

Unlike companies such as Nielsen Online and comScore Media Metrix, Quantcast offers publishers and advertisers detailed info based on real data. “We provide census-level, direct measurement of Web sites,” Gerber said. “We’re not simply looking at panels.” (Like Adweek, Nielsen Online is a unit of the Nielsen Co.)

Quantcast requires participating publishers to place small pieces of code on their Web pages. Using those tags, Gerber said, Quantcast can record what happens on a site—which pages are visited, videos are watched or ads are delivered. Plus, Quantcast can extrapolate the demographics of a site’s users.

Susan Hickey, CMO at Nielsen Online, said Quantcast’s methodology “really isn’t clear.”

But Christopher Batty, vp, sales at Gawker Media, which recently joined Quantcast’s publisher program, said, “They are building a better mousetrap.”

Still, Quantcast has a way to go before it makes a major impact. “They need more sites in the top 100,” said David Smith, CEO of Mediasmith, citing Yahoo and Google as examples.

A comScore representative said getting those top sites might not be easy. “The advantage of a panel is that it measures everyone on the same playing field and doesn’t require individual site participation,” he said.