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
- 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