Canadian database focuses on daytime surfing habits

ComScore Media Metrix of Canada is building a database that will help capture the Internet surfing habits of Canadians while they’re at work.

Until recently, the online measurement and metrics company could only provide

substantive data on Internet trends in the home. Media Metrix has teamed up with five multimedia organizations to get a picture of how Canadians use the Web during the other half of their lives.

The “Work only” database was developed in co-operation with Bell Canada, MSN Canada, CanWest Interactive, CBC/Radio Canada and the Yellow Pages Group.

The initial findings will likely support the notion that news and information sites fare the best during work hours, said Brent Lowe-Bernie, president of comScore Media Metrix of Canada. “We know from looking at the U.S. information, there are certain categories . . . where the reach is higher in the work-only universe,” he said.

A popular phrase in the online world is “daytime is primetime,” said Lowe-Bernie, “which is one of the main reasons that the industry is being seen as a really good complement to offline media. There are target groups that you can reach during the day using online. That’s why it’s so important.”

Media Metrix data is collected from roughly 4,000 work-only panelists who work at Canadian businesses of various sizes in different industries. Their browsers are routed to Media Metrix proxy servers and the Web sites they visit measured against 27 separate categories.

A view of how Canadians use the Internet at work has been lacking for some time, said Claude Galipeau, executive director of digital programming and business development at the CBC. Information has been available in the U.S. for some time, but the only way Canadian organizations could understand surfing between nine and five was to conduct an internal review of their sites.

“We know that the Internet is consumed the most during the daytime,” said Galipeau. “We know that most Canadians are at work during the day. To know fully what they’re doing, we need really good at-work panels.”

Such information will help the CBC better target its online programming, he said. “It allows you to plan your news coverage better. You put your resources where people are. You follow the user. It’s all about knowing the user better and their consumption patterns.”

For example, CBC’s online sports pages are more likely to be viewed during lunch hour. “It’s crucial – particularly for broadcasting companies – to know what kind of content is consumed at what time of the day because it facilitates programming,” said Galipeau.

The data could also influence how sites target their advertising. The Yellow Pages group, for instance, is aware that phone and address listings are more popular during the day while its portal, which is used mainly for restaurant and movie planning, experiences its peak after 5:00 p.m. It can charge advertisers accordingly, but the at-work database will the company more data and, more importantly, more accurate data.

“It’s a more precise view of the unique visitors we get at work. . . . That’s pretty important for us to know, from an advertising point of view,” said the company’s vice-president of electronic directories, Claude Galipeau.

The five founding partners will be the first to view Media Metrix’s findings and a public report will be published next month.

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