Ad Report–Minus the Numbers–Issued by RelevantKnowledge

RelevantKnowledge Inc. said it issued its first monthly Ad Network Report, calling it “the only analysis that accurately measures the potential and actual reach among ad networks.”

Oddly, no specifics from the report were issued. A spokeswoman for the company said that was a deliberate move, taken to avoid the sort of controversy that ensued recently when DoubleClick and LinkExchange began issuing dueling press releases over figures from Media Metrix. RelevantKnowledge “didn’t want to infringe on the content of the report,” she said.

The RelevantKnowledge June Ad Network Report includes 24/7 Media, BurstNet, DoubleClick, Flycast, LinkExchange, RealMedia and ZuluMedia. The spokeswoman said at least three of those networks are subscribers to the report. There is not yet a pricing structure for the ad reports, she told Internet Advertising Report.

The immediate intent of the Ad Network Report is twofold, RelevantKnowledge said.

First, the report delivers intelligence to the industry about the reach and audience composition of the major ad networks. Second, it provides ad networks, advertisers, agencies and analysts with quantitative data about the reach of specific “affinity groups” (interest areas with similar content, e.g., news/information) designed to enhance the targeting of advertisers’ media buys. Affinity groups are the result of an ad network’s functional and technical relationships with thousands of sites.

“So much confusion has arisen recently in the very competitive ad network space,” said RelevantKnowledge CEO Jeff Levy. “The goal of our report is to clear up some of the commotion arising from apples to oranges comparisons, such as the actual v. potential reach of an ad network, as well as comparing ad networks to aggregated Web domains or properties.”

But confusion or no, don’t be surprised to see figures from the report soon, either leaked to the online media or boldly presented in yet another press release from an ad network.

RelevantKnowledge defines potential reach as the reach across all sites that an ad network represents. This does not account for whether ads are viewed. Actual reach, a better performance measure, is based on actual ads viewed by a user. The company said its advantage in this area of measurement lies in its technical capability of measuring when a user receives an ad provided by an ad network’s ad server.

While RelevantKnowledge has the ability to take an ad network’s self-reported URLs and yield a potential reach figure across those URLs, the company said its Ad Network Report goes a step further by measuring actual ads viewed.

“An ad network may represent 10 million ‘potential’ Unique Visitors, but in a given time period, it may only be able to reach a third of them,” said RelevantKnowledge President Tim Cobb. “This one-third number is considered by RelevantKnowledge as the ‘coverage rate’ of an ad network, a number that often hinges on distribution deals that ad networks have with sites.”

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