July 10, 2007, 12:00 AM

Nielsen/NetRatings expands audience measurement to account for rich media

By adding data on total minutes and number of sessions compiled by all visitors to a web site, the NetView audience measurement service better accounts for activity on web sites offering video and dynamically changing content, Nielsen/NetRatings says.

By adding data on total minutes and number of sessions compiled by all visitors to a web site, the NetView audience measurement service better accounts for activity on web sites offering video and dynamically changing content, Nielsen/NetRatings says.

“We think total time is the best measurement of engagement for Web 2.0 technologies,” a Nielsen/NetRatings spokeswoman says. “This is in response to the advent of Ajax and streaming content.”

While NetView has always reported average time per person and average number of sessions, these measurements don’t fully account for time spent on sites that offer changing content without having to refresh pages-an ability supported by Ajax web design technology and streaming media. The total minutes measurement, for example, is a more useful way to show time spent on a site like YouTube.com, where visitors might view several videos in a single visit without refreshing pages, Nielsen says. Such specific information would go unnoticed in reports that show only average time per person, it adds.

“YouTube visitors spend more time per page than MySpace because they are primarily watching videos, requiring fewer page refreshes,” Nielsen says. “While MySpace may be able to serve more ads because of its number of page refreshes, the time spent ratio is an important comparison of audience engagement on the two sites.”

“Total Minutes is the best engagement metric in this initial stage of Web 2.0 development, not only because it ensures fair measurement of web sites using rich Internet applications and streaming media, but also of web environments that have never been well-served by the page view, such as online gaming and Internet applications,” says Scott Ross, director, product marketing for the NetView service.

In measuring total sessions, Nielsen compiles all periods of online visitor activity that are interrupted by a break of at least 30 minutes, the spokeswoman says. She adds that Nielsen intends the new information on total minutes and total sessions to be considered along with Nielsen’s other data to get a comprehensive view of web site performance.

The top 10 web brands ranked by total minutes (in millions) in May followed by their number of unique May visitors (in millions; unique visitors are counted only once per month regardless of how many times they visit a site), according to Nielsen/NetRatings:

AOL Media Network, 25,000 total minutes; 91.6 unique visitors
Yahoo, 19,600; 107.6
MSN/Windows Live, 10,600; 95.9
Fox Interactive Media, 7,800; 64.1
Google, 7,400; 110.2
eBay, 6,100; 60.2
Microsoft, 3,700; 94.4
EA-Electronics Arts Online, 3,500; 8.7
Apple, 2,800; 45
YouTube, 2,100; 48.2

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