ComScore Launches New Measurement Methodology

ComScore has announced the adoption of a new measurement methodology which combines both panel-based data and server-level data from Web sites, a move the company is billing as a major step forward for online audience research.

The new methodology, dubbed Media Metrix 360, will be available in the U.S. and Canada starting this August for comScore’s July site data. comScore will now blend together audience and demographic data from its longstanding two million person global panel with raw traffic data from its partners’ server files, in what executives are calling a ‘panel-centric hybrid’ approach.

That approach, if successful could address several longstanding complaints in the online ad industry. Many publishers and buyers have long decried the use of any panel-based data—which typically projects audience figures based on a small set of users’ activity– in an industry which can track so much actual user activity. Nearly every publisher in the industry complains that its Nielsen and comScore numbers are lower than their own internal numbers.

However, server level data has its own problems. For example, a site’s internal data often does not account for users who delete cookies (and thus can be counted multiple times) or when the same person uses multiple devices (which can also lead to double counting).

Therefore, theoretically the Media Metrix 360 methodology could provide the best of both worlds. “comScore Media Metrix 360 represents an innovative and elegant measurement solution to the increasingly complex digital media landscape,” said comScore president and CEO Dr. Magid Abraham. “Media Metrix 360 represents the Web’s first true measurement currency.”

comScore has not said how many publishers have agreed to implement Media Metrix 360, but is actively inviting partners to do so. However, the company has recruited several big names from the online advertising world to talk up the new methodology, including MySpace, Federated Media, Starcom MediaVest and MTV Networks.  “As one of its first participants, Federated Media is firmly in support of comScore’s Media Metrix 360 measurement initiative,” said Federated Media chairman John Battelle. “This new hybrid approach represents a critically important evolution in online audience measurement, especially for publishers and content networks, by better accounting for niche audiences, distributed content and the mobile environment. We view it as an important leap forward for the industry.”