Jupiter Media Metrix Changes its Tune on Pop-Ups

Getting more granular with its reporting, Jupiter Media Metrix will be sorting Internet traffic into more specific classifications, and giving pop-ups and pop-unders their own category, rather than including them in the overall rankings.

The change in the pop-up and pop-under policy comes in response to complaints that counting visits to these sites — which Web surfers visit involuntarily — skews the accuracy of Internet traffic rankings. The Web site for notorious pop-under advertiser X10, for example, came in at number five in October’s top 50 rankings, largely because its pop-under ads — since they are served from the X10.com domain — were counted as traffic to the site.

Under the new Jupiter Media Metrix policy, domains that get the majority of their traffic from these types of promotions would be counted as “promotional servers” and not appear in any other category of the Media Metrix rankings. The company has always had a separate category for ad serving networks like DoubleClick, which receive most of their traffic from serving commercial messages, and the creation of this new “promotional servers” group is consistent with that policy.

One element of these new procedures that’s likely to cause controversy in the email marketing world is the exclusion of certain sites that use “techniques resulting in involuntary visits to Web sites, specifically: those that sell email lists; [and] opt-in email providers… .” But the company acknowledges that it needs to tweak its rules to account for “voluntary” (opt-in) versus “involuntary” (spam or opt-out) emails.

“We need to come up with some rules that differentiate the approaches that are taken,” said Charles Buchwalter, vice president of media research at New York-based Jupiter Media Metrix.

Even with these new, more restrictive rules, pop-ups and pop-unders won’t be eliminated entirely from the traffic rankings. Companies like Vivendi-Universal, Columbia House, and Bizrate.com get a large percentage of their traffic from serving these pop-ups and pop-unders, but Jupiter Media Metrix isn’t separating out the traffic numbers for now — although it says it will do so within the next few months as its engineers work out a technological solution.

The change in policy comes as Jupiter Media Metrix works to get more specific in its traffic rankings overall. It will now count traffic by property, domain (or media title), channel, and subchannel. Using Yahoo as an example, that would mean it would measure Yahoo as a whole, domains like yahoo.com (which would exclude other Yahoo properties like LAUNCH), then channels like Yahoo Finance, and subchannels like Yahoo Personal Finance.

The idea behind the move is that these subdivisions of portals compete directly against one another, as well as against standalone sites that offer similar content. Measuring them separately would give advertisers the ability to do a more apples-to-apples comparison.

Additionally, Jupiter Media Metrix is starting to measure online software applications — such as file sharing and chat applications, as well as browsers — and commercial online services like America Online and Compuserve. In its first release of these measurements, the company found that the most popular Internet access applications in October were Internet Explorer, with 65.6 million users; the America Online service, with 38.2 million users; Netscape Navigator, with 15.7 million users; and MSN Explorer (Microsoft’s online service and browser) with 4.1 million users.

The introduction of these new policies and procedures comes as Jupiter Media Metrix prepares to be acquired by its rival, Nielsen//NetRatings. The two companies signed a definitive agreement back in October.

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