Posted April 23, 2007 9:57 pm by with 0 comments

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Last week, the Interactive Advertising Bureau CEO Randal Rothenberg challenged comScore and Nielsen//NetRatings to increase their transparency and submit to an independent audit of their outmoded panel-based Internet measurements.

Today, both Internet measurement companies responded. Both said they were in the process of an independent audit; Nielsen//NetRatings is prequalified by the very board that Rothenberg named in his letter.

comScore’s response highlighted the company currently evaluating their research processes and defended the panel-based methodology comScore relies on:

As part of our efforts to achieve transparency, we have opened our methodology and processes to an evaluation by the Advertising Research Foundation. We are in the final stages of this evaluation and hope that the results will be publicly released in the near future.

comScore’s panel methodologies reflect the investment of millions of dollars and years of research and development. We are confident that they will stand the scrutiny of a third-party evaluation or audit.

The press release closed with a quotation from comScore’s President and CEO, Dr. Magid Abraham:

I want to assure the IAB members that comScore is committed to the digital media industry and strives to provide, to the best of its abilities, accurate and unbiased measurement. We look forward to working with the IAB and the rest of the industry on establishing measurement standards for all participants.

Nielsen//NetRating’s letter, by President and CEO William Pulver, focuses on how closely the IAB and NTRT have worked together in the past, highlighting their participation with the Media Rating Council:

The IAB has reviewed Nielsen//NetRatings’ services in the past and we have over the last several years worked closely with the MRC, demonstrating our track record of transparency and cooperation. NetRatings is the only Internet Audience Measurement research company to have completed the MRC’s pre-audit, and we are currently executing on a formal Research Plan jointly developed with the MRC’s Research Committee. We look forward to taking the next appropriate steps in the audit process. As a result, we were surprised by your comment that, “We simply cannot let the Internet, the most accountable medium ever invented, fall into the same bad customs that have hindered older media and angered advertisers for decades.” NetRatings anticipates attaining full MRC accreditation in the future, similar to MRC accreditations held by many established media measurement companies, including Nielsen Media Research, which submit to regular audits.

NTRT reiterates that it doesn’t rely solely upon panel data and focuses on future offerings:

Since our inception in 1997, we have made significant investments to build a broad portfolio of patented panel- and site-centric measurement tools to create comprehensive products that report, among other things, audience estimates, demographic information and consumer behavior. NetRatings is taking a leadership position in integrating data from multiple sources to deliver accurate information on which both advertisers and publishers can rely. In addition to our work in integrating panel and site data, we are also working swiftly to address recent technology changes unique to our medium, including proper measurement of streaming media and AJAX as well as expanding Web site classification to six levels. Further, we are working closely with our partner Nielsen Media Research to address the convergence of television and the Internet.

So, to recap, will the way comScore & Nielsen//NetRatings accrue data change? Probably not. Both are in the process of being audited by independent third parties—and surely Rothenberg knew (or could have easily found out) that NTRT had already begun the process of an audit by the very body he recommended.