Jupiter Offers Reach and Frequency Tools

Troubled online research firm Jupiter Media Metrix continues its launching of Internet advertising products, with the release of its Advertising Planning System.

The product enables media planners and buyers to estimate the number of unique individuals they should be able to reach with a specific impressions-based buy, as well as the frequency of exposures that those users should see.

As a result, the product can calculate Gross Rating Points and Targeted Rating Points, metrics familiar to planners of offline media. The technology also can calculate duplication among users of different sites, as well as the marginal cost of reaching the next 1,000 users.

Accurately counting sites’ audiences and ascertaining campaigns’ reach and frequency after the fact remains a vexing problem for advertisers and publishers. The different ad serving systems used by third-party servers and site publishers give different figures for the number of impressions served during the same campaign. Further, sites’ and advertisers’ own figures may contradict those from measurers of site visitors, like Jupiter or its rival NetRatings, or of campaigns, like Jupiter’s AdRelevance unit.

Jupiter’s new offering, which eventually will likely become a part of its Media Metrix traffic rankings service, is one solution to the problem — though whether the Advertising Planning System will successfully find traction with agencies is uncertain.

Like several of its recent offerings to advertisers and media buyers, Jupiter’s Advertising Planning System is based on data (in this case, predictive models) derived from its 60,000-member Media Metrix panel of Internet users. Jupiter verifies the Advertising Planning System’s predictive model against simulated data from the panel.

But concerns have long lingered over whether panels truly represent the Internet’s demography. Locally-focused sites, such as newspapers, say national panels routinely under-measure their traffic. Major sites and services complain privately about the services’ discrepancies versus their own logfiles, though they publicly tout figures from either Jupiter or Milpitas, Calif.-based NetRatings.

Additionally, discrepancies between the two panel players are also an issue of worry. Both Yahoo and Microsoft’s MSN claim the No. 2 spot in total monthly visitors behind AOL Time Warner’s America Online — with one using Jupiter’s figures and the other using NetRatings.

Jupiter’s Advertising Planning System is also going head-to-head with a rival product from Avenue A, which draws much of its data from actual campaigns delivered through its Atlas DMT ad serving and optimization suite, rather than predictive modeling. Jupiter, for its part, contends that its lack of affiliation with any ad serving system makes its results more independent.

The move comes as part of an unprecedented volume of new products from the New York-based company. In September, the company launched its site traffic tracking and measurement ASP, Site Measurement, which involves pages with code that allows publishers to track users’ activity on their site.

In February, the company debuted Campaign Analysis, an agency- and advertiser-focused ASP that aims to provide third-party metrics on online ad campaigns’ effectiveness and impressions. Last week, the company also confirmed its intention to launch a rival to DoubleClick’s @plan service, which offers detailed consumer demographic and buying information for a number of sites’ audiences.

Executives at Jupiter Media Metrix said the products were in keeping with the company’s strategy.

“The way that most people always used Media Metrix data was to help rationalize media buys in the online world,” said Charles Buchwalter. “But … when it comes to the process of exactly what I want to buy, you’re much more interested in … the collective reach and frequency that I’m going to get. Those are really the core questions.”

“We look at this as the logical next step to extend the wealth of Jupiter Media Metrix data to answer questions … of how offline and online media work together,” he added. “Making this data more granular, that’s really what this is all about, because that’s what people do in the real world.”

Depending on their reception by clients — or from a potential buyer — those new product could prove to be the salvation of Jupiter Media Metrix, the future of which is in growing doubt following the breakup of its proposed $72.1 million merger with NetRatings.

With a just over a quarter’s worth of cash remaining in the bank, the firm has begun exploring “strategic options” following the termination of the merger, which had been halted by federal regulators. The original merger agreement had included a $25 million loan to Jupiter.

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