Thursday, September 23, 2004

A Global Audience for a Global Medium - A look at the online news and information audience

Presentation by Peter Steyn, Nielsen//NetRatings

The Internet has changed the way we communicate en masse as well as how we communicate one-on-one. People are increasingly flocking to the Internet, and spending a substantial part of their day online, surfing. The average Internet user in developed countries spends slightly more than 11 hours a month surfing the Internet from home — with Asians known to be substantially heavier users of the medium.

When events of major international significance occur, both locally and around the world, people are turning increasingly to the Internet as the most up to date and comprehensive news source. While television remains an important medium as a source for news, viewers are increasingly relying on the Internet to complement their television coverage — providing more in-depth analysis, statistics, and other interactive features such as chat rooms, instant messaging, streaming videos, pictures, and 3D rotation animations. Most often, television and the Internet are consumed simultaneously. This "dual" and "simultaneous" usage, in particularly during breaking news events, is more prevalent among the younger generation, who are spending much of their free time on the Internet, and not all of them just for the fun of it. The recent Iraq war and outbreak of SARS attracted a significant number of young Internet users to current affairs and news sites.

As an interactive medium, the Internet offers a plethora of opportunities to engage the reader and communicate news in a creative way.

Over the past three or four years, a number of news sites have faded into oblivion, while others have flourished and are now considered leaders in their respected fields. A key ingredient for the successful ones has been access to timely, accurate and comprehensive data that has given them a thorough understanding of their target audience and provided a measure of how successful they have been in reaching them. In addition, collecting competitor intelligence on the Internet has proved easy, accurate and comprehensive.

Data has been available for media such as television, print and radio for many years. In contrast, Internet audience measurement is still in its early phases. The Internet allows for several measurement approaches, including survey research, panel data, server log data, ISP data, and ad-network data, to name a few. This presentation will address some approaches to Internet audience measurement, with the focus on audience panel data. A global "status report" on the internet around the world in major markets will be presented, including the growth of online audiences to news sites with a specific focus on Hong Kong. And as technology allows us to collect comprehensive data about Internet usage, we can now more accurately track ad exposure and interactivity. The final part of the presentation will address ad tracking and online campaign planning through the use of panel data.