Online advertising is still a relatively tiny market, but an increasing number of companies are vying for the right to tell advertisers and their ad agencies where and how to responsibly spend their limited pool of Web ad dollars.
Easier said than done. No reliable measurements exist for determining the size of the Web audience, leaving advertisers to sort through a dizzying number of competing claims from different websites. The creator of a system that catches on with advertisers has a big opportunity: the chance to become the Nielsen of the Internet.
The latest entrant in the race to accurately count Web viewers: Relevant.Knowledge, an Atlanta-based company founded by former Turner Broadcasting executives and staffed with research executives with experience counting eyeballs in traditional media like television and radio. This company provides standardized, detailed demographic data and faster feedback about Web viewing, among other services. Relevant.Knowledge has been delivering data on a test basis to companies including CNN, Sony, cǀNET, and Microsoft's MSN Network.
Relevant.Knowledge is taking aim at one of the biggest issues bedeviling online advertisers and publishers: a dearth of reliable information that advertisers can use to justify buying ads on the Web. So far, advertisers have been caught in a culture clash between technology buffs and traditional researchers. The result: not enough data that can be applied to multiple websites. Individual sites provide information about the number of visitors they receive, but such results cannot easily be compared to what other sites may be supplying. Most sites cannot distinguish one person visiting the same site over and over again from a new visitor. Instead, media buyers have had to rely on more primitive tools, like reports about what competitors are spending and where. 1