TORONTO — ComScore Media Metrix is attempting to increase the value of its data by making stronger links between online and offline buying habits and media consumption.

The company will introduce a service called Audience

Insite Measures, or AiM, by the end of next year. AiM will amalgamate more qualitative demographic data about users with traditional statistics like number of site visits and dollars spent online.

ComScore’s goal is to validate the Internet as a viable advertising medium. Internet advertising is still a very soft market, noted ComScore president and CEO Magid Abraham, “”especially if you are talking to offline companies. Sometimes spending money online is an afterthought.”” Abraham spoke to an audience of Internet marketers and advertisers Thursday.

If you can demonstrate a provable return on advertising investment, then that trend could be reversed, said Abraham. The company has developed behavioural markers that go beyond demographic indicators like age, gender and income to determine which consumer belongs to which segment. The spending habits of people who people who routinely check sports scores online, for instance, can be correlated with the number of purchases they make in outdoors/wilderness stores. That number could be compared with the purchases of someone who does a lot of Internet banking.

“”We know what people are doing online and we also know what cars they’re buying. The good news in all of this . . . is the Internet is very highly predictive of what people do,”” said Abraham.

ComScore bought Media Metrix in June for US$1.5 million and is in the process of absorbing the company’s data pool and sampling techniques. Media Metrix Canada’s panel size was on the order of 6,000. ComScore’s Canadian pool is 97,000.

While increasing the number of people it can draw data from, ComScore is adding more respondents from work environments, as well as colleges and universities. The Canadian work panel will increase four-fold in the next 30 days, said ComScore Media Metrix Canada president Brent Lowe-Bernie.

The company will add a greater variety of services, like tracking a user’s surf patterns through a specific site and break out numbers on broadband versus dial-up usage. “”Obviously high-speed users have different surfing patterns,”” said Lowe-Bernie.

The link between online surfing and offline shopping is nothing new, said Nick Barbuto, interactive media specialist with the Cossette Communication Group. Barbuto said that he isn’t interested in some of the segments the company is addressing, like pharmaceuticals spending, but applauded the attempt to increase the value of market research data.

More compelling, said Barbuto, is ComScore’s advances in comparing relative media consumption, which would be of value to advertising agencies and their clients. “”If they can say MSN is full of people that don’t watch TV (for example), that’s a great insight. That’s what everyone’s trying to do,”” he said.


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