ComScore and Nielsen Broaden the Metrics Game

  |  July 27, 2007   |  Comments

ComScore separates heavy and light Web users, while Nielsen delves into time spent playing console and PC games.

Engagement and other measurement questions are bringing new metrics to the table from major players. ComScore is introducing Segment Metrix, while Nielsen's new GamePlay Metrics sees its first data.

Like A-students in high school, heavy Internet users raise the bell curve on time spent online. To provide a more accurate picture, comScore's new Segment Metrix product divides Internet users into three groups. Heavy users account for the top 20 percent; medium users for 30 percent, and the segment classified as light Internet users comprises 50 percent of the metric.

In May, the average time spent across 177.5 million U.S. Internet users was 28.8 hours. However the 89.6 million unique users classified as the light Internet segment averaged 3.6 hours; significantly less than the 28.8 hour average attributed to Internet users as a whole.

"We all know that heavy Internet users really control a disproportionate share of time spent," said Bob Ivins, executive VP of comScore.

The segmentation metric isn't new to comScore's data offering, but it became more relevant as discussion over metrics and engagement have heated up in recent months.

"We've been doing it for a long time, and have a lot of experience with it," Ivins told ClickZ News. "We decided to put it in the interface and make it all-you-can-eat."

Data from the travel industry segment further demonstrates the pitfalls of an all-audience measurement. In May, the heavy user segment frequented airline sites such as U.S. Airways (67.2 percent); United Airlines (60.9 percent); and Delta Airlines (60.7 percent). Heavy users skew the travel industry data in the direction of airline sites while, "online travel agency sites have a lower proportion of heavy travel category users but a larger visitor base," the report said.

While the segmentation is being brought to light in comScore's offering, the company is evolving its time spent metric to address dormant windows and tabs. "We're moving beyond duration to a metric called engaged duration," said Ivins. "We want to make sure you're getting credit behind pages open and active, not just sitting behind tabs."

Competing firm Nielsen//NetRatings recently adjusted its total minutes and total sessions metrics to address industry demand. Nielsen's game division expanded its People Meter to include measurement of time spent playing video games on consoles and PC in new offering dubbed GamePlay.

The product captures time spent playing individual games on current and legacy consoles including the PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox, Xbox 360, GameCube, and Wii. The household meter always had the ability to capture "anything that touches the glass of the TV," according to Jeff Herman, VP of Nielsen Games and Nielsen Wireless.

With GamePlay, Nielsen's meter can now track individual titles gamers are playing. Previously, it only registered a household was playing a console game.

GamePlay won't track ad impressions that occur in games (in-game ad network Double Fusion recently released a study on the topic, and IGA Worldwide plans to release data in August). However the service is still expected to benefit advertisers.

"It enables advertisers to gauge the best alignment, gamer statistics, [and] what they're doing when not playing games," said Herman. Advertisers can "see the relationships between gaming consumption, and the correlation between games and TV shows. It's an opportunity to reach gamers across multiple platforms."

The monthly data are expected to show insight to seasonal gamer patterns. Of Nintendo Wii, Herman said, "In April, you can see the usage spike after school and in the early evening... the composition of Wii gamers tends to be younger."

"In the June data, not only did the Wii have a 5:00 p.m. peak, but an 8:00 p.m. peak. It doesn't trail off as quickly as in April, more time is devoted to gaming," he added.

While comScore and Nielsen continue to adapt their metrics and make new data available, both companies have meanwhile agreed to audits to validate their methodologies and collection methods.

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Enid Burns

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