Ad Networks Duel Over Audience Reach Figures

You could call it the case of the dueling ad networks. First DoubleClick issued a statement saying it has the third largest audience reach on the Internet. Then LinkExchange fired back, saying it just ain’t so.

In the middle is Web usage measurement firm Media Metrix, which later put out a statement intended to clarify matters. But it all apparently boils down to fun with figures, or as someone once said, there are lies, damned lies, and statistics.

The DoubleClick Network, based in New York City, first issued a statement claiming it has the third largest audience reach on the Internet behind AOL and Yahoo, according to Media Metrix April figures.

The DoubleClick Network includes more than 170 sites around the world and currently serves an estimated 1.5 billion ads each month to 35 million people, the company said.

DoubleClick reported that Media Metrix said that AOL’s reach is 46.3%, Yahoo’s is 42.4% and DoubleClick’s is 29.4%, followed by Netscape at 25.8% and GeoCities at 25.5%.

Cooperative ad network LinkExchange then issued a statement saying that DoubleClick’s release is “incorrect.”

LinkExchange said the correct Web reach numbers according to Media Metrix’s most recent report (May 1998) show LinkExchange fourth in reaching users at home, behind AOL, Yahoo and the collective Microsoft sites. It ranked DoubleClick fifth. Among users at work, according to LinkExchange, DoubleClick was seventh and LinkExchange was fifth.

“No matter how you look at it, DoubleClick is No. 5 at best, behind AOL, Yahoo, Microsoft and LinkExchange, NOT No 3,” said a Link Exchange spokesman.

Still, it may be more significant than just some number juggling. Various news services picked up the original DoubleClick release and apparently, when the news got out, DoubleClick’s stock soared 29% in one day, reaching nearly $63, up about $13.

DoubleClick said it was company policy not to comment on unusual market activity, Nasdaq said in a statement

Media Metrix early Wednesday issued a lengthy statement which is worth the read if you’re in the interactive ad game.

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