Quantcast Offers Free Online Video and Widget Measurement Service

San Francisco-based Internet measurement player Quantcast has added online video and widget audience measurement to its catalog of ratings tools, the company is expected to announce today.

Offered for free at on the company’s Web site, the new products can report all Flash-based media, including videos and online games, in addition to Web-based and downloaded widgets. Quantcast says the new tools enable publishers to measure the use of videos and widgets on their Web sites and to keep track of the spread of the videos and widgets they create and publish.

The information can be presented to prospective advertisers, many of who may be interested in reaching the vast population of online video and widget users but who are reluctant to spend dollars without some idea of audience size. “The starting point is to measure those things,” said Quantcast co-founder and CEO Konrad Feldman, “next is to present it to advertisers.”

The enhanced tracking and reporting service is an open program still in beta. As such, the service reports on plays, reach, amount consumed and category. The full application, as proposed, will also provide data on frequency and distribution, as well as “demographics and lifestyle assessments based on Quantcast’s Mass Inference algorithm,” said the company.

Quantcast said Mochi Media, PictureTrail and MetaCafe are among the early participants in the beta program.

Although the new video and widget measurement service is free, Web publishers, sites, or services that want to use it must join Quantcast’s free Quantified Publisher Program.

“It’s a convergent model,” said Feldman “We want to extend the measurement approach to widgets and video. There are unanswered questions on how widgets will be monetized but one things for certain: Characteristics of the audience will be important.”

Quantcast combines panel-based research with anonymous user information provided by advertisers, publishers, and ISPs. The free information is searchable on the company’s site. The Quantified Publisher program allows site owners to receive independent verification of their audience size, demographics and information about other sites visited by their audience, including general categories and particular sites.

For media planners, Quantcast provides lists of Web sites that may be appropriate given a campaign’s goals. Earlier this year, Quantcast executives said their goal was to provide directly verified data on a majority of sites using a census approach.

The decision to offer video and widget measurement is based on the stunning growth of those applications, said Feldman. He said daily use of online video grew 56 percent over the past year, and companies are probably going to spend more than $4 billion on online video advertising by 2011.

“Given the parallel explosion in widget use, the mandate is clear: If they want to attract more advertising dollars, publishers must measure and understand their video and widget audiences,” said Feldman in a statement. “We look forward to providing them with the accurate, third-party metrics and the easy-to-use graphical reports they need.”

Quantcast said it currently measures over 30 million Web destinations and billions of Internet visits monthly. The company says it was formed “by a team of Web analytics experts committed to making accurate and insightful Internet audience information available on the Web.”

Feldman said Quantcast will continue to offer its measurement tools for free, but plans to make money by “connecting publishers and advertisers.”

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