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The Online Advertising Playbook: Proven Strategies and Tested Tactics from The Advertising Research Foundation by Robert Barocci, Taddy Hall, Steve Rappaport, Joseph Plummer

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Online Audience Measurement

There are two prominent methods of measuring online audience activity: metered tracking using panels, and telephone surveys. Both methodologies have their merits and weaknesses, and the major audience measurement companies such as Nielsen//NetRatings and comScore Networks use a combination of both, depending on the service. Metered tracking data services utilize technology that records which websites an internet user visits via software that panel members voluntarily install on their computers. While metered panels can get a more accurate view of online media consumption than telephone surveys might because they track actual behavior rather than self-reported visitation, metered data typically comes under fire for underrepresenting the at-work audience—an audience that is crucial for many publishers. Few companies permit metering software to be installed on their company network, especially medium-sized to large companies. As a result, much of the at-work data is collected from smaller businesses and then projected to the full at-work audience.

Audience surveys such as the ones conducted by The Media Audit and Scarborough Research, to measure local usage, employ aided recall (e.g., respondents are asked which websites they visited and are given a list to choose from) or unaided recall (no list is provided and respondents must answer from memory). While both methodologies probably skew slightly toward larger, more well-known brands and properties since ...

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