comScore to Expand Media Metrix

Just weeks after closing on its purchase of Media Metrix from an ailing Jupiter Media Metrix , Web researcher comScore Networks said that it’s increased the size of its new Internet audience ratings panel, and will continue to support it alongside its flagship service.

Reston, Va.-based comScore, which acquired Media Metrix early last month, said it plans to double the panel’s U.S. sample from 60,000 to 120,000 Internet users during the next four months. As before, members of the enlarged panel — dubbed Media Metrix 2.0 — are to be recruited through random digit dialing, or RDD.

comScore also outlined its plans to integrate Media Metrix’s widely syndicated Internet audience ratings with homegrown technology currently powering comScore’s own research offerings.

The company said Media Metrix 2.0 will use comScore technology to improve continuous monitoring of its panelists’ Internet behavior, and to provide more in-depth tracking of online transactions, at-work usage and activity on AOL Time Warner’s proprietary network.

By November, comScore said Media Metrix 2.0 will encompass more than 50,000 at-home panelists and more than 35,000 at-work members. Accurate information on those segments is seen as critical, since it’s thought that the Internet’s “primetime” occurs during the workday, and marketing messages delivered during that period are especially effective in impacting purchasing decisions made online later in the day, and offline.

The enhanced panel also will feature a 35,000-member college and university sample.

Additionally, comScore’s new Media Metrix Division, which administers the panel, will offer a service dubbed Media Metrix eXPanded Coverage, or XPC. The service will offer worldwide data by linking Media Metrix 2.0 with comScore’s 500,000-member non-U.S. sample.

Media Metrix XPC also will offer detailed Internet usage data for the top 78 Nielsen Media Research DMAs, as well as improved reporting and segmenting by demographic, bandwidth, and online buying tendencies.

comScore said it plans to support and improve Media Metrix’ Audience Insite Measures and its Advertising Planning System media planning services. A cash-strapped Jupiter Media Metrix, looking to reverse its fortunes, launched AiM and APS earlier this year in a bid to compete with players in the growing market for online planning tools, including Avenue A and @plan, which is now owned by comScore rival NetRatings .

“These new capabilities underscore our commitment to providing the highest possible value and ROI from clients’ research investment,” said Peter Daboll, president of comScore’s Media Metrix Division. “Our commitment to RDD methodology also means the industry can count on consistent, seamless data delivery, using the research standards long-sanctioned by most media researchers.”

The effort comes in spite of the fact that comScore maintains its own panel, netScore, which boasts a whopping 1.5 million panelists, and was created through a different methodology than was Media Metrix. Still, the firm says it’s keen to keep both, at least for the present.

Last month, Dan Hess, vice president of marketing communications at comScore, told internetnews.com that maintaining the Media Metrix panel satisfied both concerns about differences in recruiting — netScore offers incentives to join the panel, which is calibrated for statistical accuracy using a smaller, RDD-based “calibration panel” — in addition to broadening comScore’s reach into the enterprise.

“Media Metrix’s [RDD methodology] is important because it’s the statistical design of that panel that many clients prefer,” Hess said. “Rather than prolong the debate about methodology, why not simply deliver to clients what they want and give the best of both worlds.”

“And most of comScore’s revenue comes from marketing solutions that we deliver to major industries, like automotive, travel and retail,” he added. Unlike Media Metrix, “we see activity such as consumers’ online activity and product research, and whether they bought offline … so we serve different parts of the organization. We might deal with e-commerce or marketing executives or strategists, and in same company, Media Metrix people might have stronger relationships with media or advertising executives. It’s tremendously complementary.”

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