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ComScore, Arbitron Work to Package Local Market Data

NEW YORK — ComScore Networks and Arbitron Inc. have struck a deal aiming to help local content providers like newspapers and radio stations package their Web site audiences in ways that traditional offline media buyers will better understand.

ComScore yesterday announced a service that the Internet audience measurement firm claims offers information on the online and offline buying behavior of consumers in 78 designated market areas, or DMAs. The DMAs reportedly include the country's most populated areas.

Information about the regional purchasing behavior of Web site visitors in such areas is crucial for sellers of local advertising, like cable companies and directory publishers, to make their Web sites more enticing to local ad buyers, according to comScore.

Attorneys, for example, are one of the largest buyers of Yellow Pages advertising.

“If I'm an attorney, I don't care which Web site has the largest reach,” said Russell Fradin, vice president, corporate development, comScore, San Bruno, CA. “I care which Web site has the largest reach in my region of people who spend a lot of money on attorneys' fees.”

ComScore categorizes Internet users' online and offline buying behavior under 450 headings.

For Arbitron's part, the market researcher is meeting with buyers and sellers of local advertising, aiming to create a service using comScore's data that both sides can use to do business with one another more efficiently.

“The Internet [from a media mix perspective] lives in isolation, and it shouldn't,” said Joan FitzGerald, director of business development, Arbitron, New York.

While comScore brings Internet data to the partnership, the terms of which weren't disclosed, Arbitron brings long-term relationships. This will give the service much-needed credibility with radio stations, broadcasters, cable companies, newspapers and Yellow Pages publishers. On the buy side, Arbitron will consult ad agencies that buy a lot of local advertising.

Arbitron has devised about 15 ways to package the data that it will present to both sides to get their input.

“This is putting the data into terms the media audience can understand,” FitzGerald said. “It is another step in growing overall revenue for Internet content providers.”

Any help for such companies will arrive not a moment too soon.

Online advertising reportedly accounts for 3 percent to 5 percent of ad spending. And the outlook for the ad market overall worsened this week as Sir Martin Sorrel, chief executive of WPP Group, UK, the world's second-largest advertising holding company, said he doesn't see strong growth returning to the industry until 2004.

As for when Arbitron's version of comScore's service will be ready, “I wouldn't want to hazard a guess,” FitzGerald said.

To gather its data, comScore monitors the behavior of a panel of more than 1.5 million volunteer Internet users and extrapolates.

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