The joint venture between Web measurement firms AC Nielsen and NetRatings, called ACNielsen eRatings.com and marketed under the name Nielsen/NetRatings, has launched in Australia.
The company, which is 80 per cent owned by AC Nielsen and 20 per cent by NetRatings, will introduce the first panel service for Australian, New Zealand and Singaporean Web users by next March, as part of a AUS$50 million (US$32 million) global service roll-out.
Bill Pulver, president of AC Nielsen eRatings.com, said the venture would combine the methodology of ACNielsen, used in its offline panels for traditional media, with the technology of NetRatings, which is a Net-only measurement firm.
“We’ve learnt fairly painfully over time that there needs to be a harmonisation of demographics across world wide [audiences],” he said. “[This service] scales from the local market to world wide.”
“We’ll find as the Web continues to grow, the panel will need to grow,” said Brian Milnes, Pacific MD of ACNielsen eRatings.com.
The panellists will be “snail mailed” a Java applet which will be independent of operating system or browserto monitor in the background while they surf.
The company will release a “top 10” list of Australian Web sites based on audience reach, although it was not available at launch. One service which has been running locally for several years is an estimation of the local Net population, called Global NetWatch.
Milnes said this metric was pegged at 44 per cent of Australians over 14 in the third quarter of 1999, up from 24 per cent at the same time in 1997, and from 32 per cent on year ago figures.
The panel will start at 7000 members which will be representative of the Australian Net population, not of the general Australian population, said Mr Pulver. This will mean a younger, more affluent audience, according to the company’s preliminary research through the Global NetWatch service.
The company estimated 63 per cent of 14-17 year olds had used the Net in the last four weeks, as opposed to 13 per cent of Australians aged over 55.
“With usage up near 60 per cent, it would be fair to suggest that the Internet has reached critical mass in the upper educated, upper income area,” said Milnes.
A spokesperson from the venture said its population figures would be “similar” to those of the Australian Bureau of Statistics, a Federal Government agency whose quarterly report is one of the most widely quoted metrics sources in Australia.
Pulver said the highest profile local analyst firm, www.consult, would be a customer of the venture, not a competitor. The company said it would go after the lucrative market of providing research for prospectuses for IPOs, an area which www.consult has almost cornered thus far.