DoubleClick Unveils Diameter Offerings

DoubleClick on Monday unveiled more about its new Diameter division, which repackages existing areas of its own research businesses, and those of a partner, to appeal to agencies and traditional clients.

As previously reported, DoubleClick’s Diameter unit is based largely on its acquisition of online audience measurement firm @plan last year and a recent deal with online metrics outfit comScore Networks. But the unit will also incorporate DoubleClick’s own data — which the company says can prove the effectiveness of an ad campaign.

The addition of this new unit positions DoubleClick as a jack-of-all-trades in online marketing: providing not only the infrastructure to serve online advertising, but the research tools necessarily to plan buys and track results of an online branding campaign.

Potentially, this could put DoubleClick in better position to deal with traditional advertisers and their agencies, who are looking to online advertising firms to justify a media spend by providing a quantifiable return on investment.

Such an offering is becoming increasingly important for the industry, which is struggling as dot-coms continue to burn out, and as traditional advertises trim marketing budgets in a tightening economic climate.

“Diameter is based on extensive client feedback regarding the need for reliable, sound research tools which have not been available in the marketplace to-date,” said Doug Knopper, vice president and general manager of Diameter. “Nobody is in a stronger position to understand the needs of Web publishers, advertisers and agencies, and we look forward to helping our customers realize the promise of the Web through Diameter.”

But it hasn’t been without controversy: when the firm acquired @plan last year, critics raised questions about the unit’s data integrity — since it would cover sites that DoubleClick represents. But DoubleClick executives have said that the company would safeguard @plan’s data integrity so as not to skew it in favor of sites DoubleClick represents. Presumably the same is true for its work with comScore.

From its @plan acquisition, DoubleClick Diameter offers @plan Advertising — which is targeted at online media planners in advance of a media buy — and @plan E-Commerce — designed for online merchants to tweak their product lines and e-tailing strategy. Both tools use data gathered by survey information from a panel of 40,000, as well as through polls by research giant the Gallup Organization.

From its deal with comScore Networks, DoubleClick Diameter will offer two products: netScore Traffic and netScore Traffic & Buying. Both products are based on comScore’s netScore panel of 1.5 million Internet users. NetScore Traffic contains user demographic and geographic information, while the Buying product adds the “Buying Power Index” — a ranking of how much the users of a particular site typically spend online.

The netScore partnership hasn’t been without controversy itself. DoubleClick and comScore routinely claim that the netScore panel is the best way to measure audiences — it’s more accurate and more closely represents publishers’ internal server logs, the companies say. However, competitors like Jupiter Media Metrix and NetRatings question the integrity of netScore’s panel (which is several times larger than theirs) for using what they say are non-standard industry practices in building a research panel.

Diameter will also repackage DoubleClick’s own capabilities to deliver surveys to people who see its ads. Those surveys can query site visitors about brand awareness and creative recall, so that advertisers can test different numbers of impressions and different ad formats.

Several competing ad networks and online media buyers have similar products. Real Media, for instance, has “Ad Insight,” which uses a pop-up survey technique. The survey can pop-up to test user recall of brands featured in ads they had just been served, or could survey users against a control group who had not seen the ads.

Similarly, Diameter’s Creative Testing helps advertisers evaluate the strength of creative messages by testing single impressions of different creatives against each other. Diameter Brand Measurement develops different “mini-campaigns” using different numbers of impressions or ad types to gauge the best way to optimize messaging. And Diameter’s Campaign Evaluation tool uses sampling versus a control group that did not receive ads, to provide some idea of how a brand’s perception changed through an online campaign.

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