Partnership Beefs Up DoubleClick Research

Online advertising and marketing giant DoubleClick aims to broaden its research offerings through a new partnership with Internet measurement firm comScore Networks — and Monday said it would begin selling comScore’s netScore product.

Reston, Va.-based ComScore supplies businesses with information based on samples of its anonymous database of 1.5 million opt-in Web users — which records their surfing and buying behavior — with an eye toward enabling clients to fine-tune Web strategy and CRM programs. Clients include Microsoft, American Express and Kraft Foods.

According to terms of the partnership — financial terms of which were not disclosed — DoubleClick and comScore will work to jointly create “a suite of online audience measurement products.”

The first result of the agreement is that New York-based DoubleClick will resell comScore’s netScore product, which uses comScore’s database of panelist behavior to determine the characteristics of people that visit a site.

The companies say it’s a big step forward in accurately measuring and identifying site audiences, a feat they claim the “existing Internet ratings services” have yet to do properly. And it’s not hard to see where they get their ammunition: netScore’s 1.5 million-strong research panel is more than ten times larger than the combined panels of Nielsen//NetRatings and Jupiter Media Metrix.

NetScore also provides an index of the total dollars spent online by an average member of a site’s audience, versus the total online dollars spent by the average Web user — a feature aimed at helping Web advertisers better understand how to reach their target audience.

The news is not without precedent — earlier this year, DoubleClick completed its acquisition of online market research firm @plan, which operates in the same space as comScore, and which currently forms the backbone of DoubleClick’s Research unit.

But DoubleClick executives have said that the firm plans to beef up its research division even more during the coming year — possibly rolling out a product in conjunction with its Data division, which is largely based on its purchase last year of offline database marketer Abacus Direct. From that perspective, Monday’s news appears to be a step in both directions — enhancing in-house capabilities and developing data-intensive research products.

“This partnership allows DoubleClick Research to sell the most comprehensive audience measurement system available today, in order to help marketers more efficiently develop their media buying plans, as well as allow publishers to understand their site traffic and sales planning,” said David Rosenblatt, who is president of DoubleClick’s Technology, Data and Research divisions.

And it’s clearly a win for seven-month old comScore — in addition to DoubleClick’s sizable advertiser base, it now has @plan’s roster of agencies, advertisers and publishers to tap as well.

“DoubleClick’s vast client roster, coupled with the company’s deep understanding of the marketplace, makes it an ideal partner for us,” said comScore president and chief executive officer Magid Abraham. “Together, we will be able to provide marketers with the most complete and accurate audience measurement tools available, and, for the first time, a valuation of an audience that goes beyond simply counting eyeballs.”

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