DoubleClick, IMS in Deal for Reach, Frequency

In a move that illustrates online advertising’s efforts to incorporate traditional media measurement standards, industry giant DoubleClick will integrate reach and frequency tools with its MediaVisor campaign management software.

Under an agreement with VNU’s Interactive Market Systems (IMS), the two companies will enable media planners to seamlessly transfer data between the MediaVisor tool and WebRF, a reach and frequency tool that IMS developed in conjunction with sister company Nielsen//NetRatings.

“There’s been so much discussion and debate about reach and frequency in media planning in the industry, that this is the first examples of our providing a solution that we think the industry will embrace,” said Doug Knopper, vice president and general manager of Advertiser Solutions at New York-based DoubleClick.

The debate about reach and frequency arose because of a perceived need to speak about Internet media in the language that traditional media planners understand. Until traditional agencies can think about Internet media in the terms to which they are accustomed, the argument goes, they won’t give online campaigns a substantial role in their media plans.

“[Online media] are only getting the experimental dollars, and [they] will only get the experimental dollars until [they] start acting like a traditional medium that [media planners] can compare them to,” said George Wishart, president and chief executive officer of IMS.

The contrary view holds that the technological nature of Internet media makes it much more measurable than traditional media, thereby allowing online purchases by actual ad impressions, rather than the potential to view ad impressions. Therefore, traditional reach and frequency measurements wouldn’t work on the Internet in the same way as in other media.

That view hasn’t stopped online ad technology players, though, from attempting to address the issue with their solutions. Besides the WebRF tool from IMS and Nielsen//NetRatings, Avenue A offers a product through its Atlas DMT technology division, and Jupiter Media Metrix had developed a product before the research firm was dismantled in a series of asset sales. (The status of that product is unclear.)

This latest alliance between IMS and DoubleClick bolsters the WebRF product by giving it the support of the industry’s leading player. Although IMS’ reach and frequency products are widely used among advertising agencies, the WebRF tool, introduced only earlier this year, is IMS’ first foray into interactive. It plans to introduce an enhanced WebRF tool in the fall, which would allow agencies to incorporate other data, such as server log files.

The agreement also strengthens the MediaVisor offering, which already has the advantage of being integrated with DoubleClick’s popular DART for Advertisers product.

Still, both DoubleClick and IMS acknowledge that there’s a long way to go before Internet reach and frequency measurements are standardized, accepted, and easily comparable to those of traditional media.

“Is it the end all or be all? No, obviously a lot of discussion still needs to take place,” said Knopper. “But it’s a good first step.”

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