In Depth

Quantcast Delves Into Demographics

Delivering Data Daily Differentiates Company From Others

A handful of television networks have begun using a new online audience measurement service that they say could solve many of the frustrations programmers and advertisers experience when it comes to Web measurement.

Because Web traffic numbers can fluctuate widely depending on the source, MTV, NBC and other TV networks have signed on to use measurement tools from 2-year-old Quantcast, which they consider a viable alternative to more traditional online measurement services such as Nielsen and comScore.

Quantcast differs from the other services in that it delivers demographic data on a daily basis, along with the more commonplace Web-streaming and unique-viewer figures. Other methods don’t report demographic data until at least one month later, said Alan Wurtzel, president of research at NBC.

The broadcast network used Quantcast during the Olympics to glean the demographic breakdown of users at NBCOlympics.com, he explained.

“With sales it’s critical because all advertisers want that. They want to know specific people watching. And on the Internet and mobile, if we make those a true sales platform, we have to have the research to back it up,” he said.

Indeed, advertisers demand more research on Web habits because the Internet is jostling for ad dollars with traditional TV. More granular data on both online audience behavior and the effectiveness of ad buys on the Web can help boost ad spending online.

In the last six months, Quantcast has added a number of TV customers, including NBC, MTV and Fox, as well as many owned-and-operated TV stations, said Adam Gerber, chief marketing officer for the company.

Additional media firms that have signed on to use the measurement service in the last six months are Time Inc., McClatchy and Belo.

Quantcast has grown from 17,000 Web publishers using its service to more than 70,000 in the last year, Mr. Gerber said.

Quantcast’s hybrid approach marries “census-level” information on a site with demographic data from a panel of 1.5 million Internet users. When Quantcast works with a Web site, it can tag every page on a client’s site. “We see every page that a publisher delivers in real time,” Mr. Gerber said.

MTV broke Quantcast in with its site MTVU.com and now expects to have the service rolled out to most of its sites by the end of October, said Colleen Fahey Rush, executive VP for research and planning at MTV Networks. “All the content providers are very frustrated that there is a gigantic gap between internal and third-party numbers. This can help,” she said.

NBC’s Mr. Wurtzel said the Quantcast data for the Olympics confirmed what he had expected: More men looked up track-and-field information online while more women sought out gymnastics content.

NBC will work with Quantcast on other projects going forward, he said.