Nielsen Expands Reach of Web Measurement

NEW YORK 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 Adweek is owned by the Nielsen Co., 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 to track. Such an increase in panel size should go a long way toward answering critics, who have complained in recent years that panel-based metrics firms like Nielsen and comScore 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. The firm also claims the new panel offers 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, giving them 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 that combines panel and site-level server data. Plus, emerging analytics companies like Quantcast and Compete are offering numerous free tools that often promise more granular audience data for smaller sites.

In order to ensure the new larger panel 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, svp, 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.”