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RealTime IT News

Media Metrix, Inc.

To All Concerned:

The purpose of this letter is to outline Media Metrix guidelines on reporting of ad sales 'networks.' Secondarily, we want to clarify any misunderstandings which may have occurred in the marketplace by the presentation of data.

The Web/online community has evolved in the last few years, and the significance of ad sales "networks" has clearly evolved in both importance and definition. A couple of years ago, there were many ad sales entities, and there were diverse business models. Today, many of the those original entities have grown, some have joined forces with others, and differing business models have developed. In the past, non-exclusive representation was typical; today, some "networks" insist on exclusive representation. In the past, "networks" represented entire sites; today, sub-domains of sites may be represented by more than one "network." Some "networks" have channels or categories; others do not. Some serve ads themselves, others contract out this function. It remains a work in progress like the new media industry.

For over a year, Media Metrix has reported on ad sales "networks" based upon some simple criteria which were important then but like the industry, have evolved. Our first criteria are that we report only on those ad networks which are clients of Media Metrix. While we report on over 8,000 different Web sites, four major online services, and many other digital applications whether or not those are or are not clients, we have known from the beginning that we need a close client relationship with the ad sales 'networks' in order to assure proper reporting. Our original criterion for inclusion (down to the page level) was that we would include in the 'network' calculation only those pages which a "network" represents and where an ad from that "network" was actually served to that particular page within the past 30 days. When multiple representation was the rule, that seemed the only guideline which made sense.

As we have evolved with the industry, we have also altered our guidelines as follows:

  • Where representation of a site or any page or sub-section of a site or other digital entity is exclusive, we will include all audience to that site or part of a site. Any exceptions to this will be made following full review by Media Metrix and will be noted in the reporting.
  • Where there is not an exclusive representation, we will use our original guideline of counting pages and including those for credit where an actual ad from the 'network' has been served in the previous 30 days.

These two key points are the guidelines we will adopt for the present -- though as the market continues to develop, we recognize the need to alter and enhance these guidelines.

Media Metrix recognizes that definitions of ad sales "networks" vary. (This is the reason we are placing the word 'network' in single quotation marks throughout this letter.) We also recognize that there are companies which represent for ad sales certain sites or other digital properties but do not view themselves as a "network." It is not the role of Media Metrix to define "network." The word is used here only descriptively. Media Metrix does not distinguish between "networks" which serve their own ads, are exclusive, sell remnant inventory, etc. What Media Metrix does is work with all the entities in the marketplace to gather the most comprehensive list of clients these companies serve, and then report in accordance with our guidelines.

Media Metrix does not now include ad sales "networks" in rankings. By definition, a ranking goes from the highest downward. We have reported ad sales 'networks' in the Consolidation section of the monthly Key Measures Report, and even with a space separating the ad "network" from the other content "networks." We have done this because we, along with the marketplace, recognize that ad sales 'networks' represent sites. In our other reporting of individual sites or content "networks" (an example here would be The Excite Network which is comprised of sites owned by Excite Inc.), we have made the distinction between ownership and representation. We continue to believe this is a viable distinction.

We are currently in the process of developing an ad sales "network" report. This report will include those ad sales "networks" which are 1.) clients, 2.) which ask Media Metrix to include them in the report, and 3.) where the guidelines for 'network' reporting are met. Ad sales "networks" will also be included, as they have been, in the monthly Key Measures Report. We hope to have the initial ad sales "network" report together in the next couple of weeks.

There are many ways "networks" choose to report themselves. Media Metrix at times counsels and attempts to guide users of its data, but Media Metrix cannot always control how data are presented nor interpreted.

Finally, we are making this letter available because of confusion which has resulted in the market. There has also been a discussion of custom studies which Media Metrix has produced for some of its clients. By outlining our rationale, explaining how the data are tabulated, Media Metrix hopes to clarify some of the confusion and have its position understood better.

Media Metrix Management Team