Just an Online Minute... Why iSweeps???

Call me a crank, but I simply can’t resist this one any longer. In their race to appear better than Jupiter Media Metrix after the breakup, Nielsen//NetRatings has made a really obtuse move.

A few days ago, with much fanfare, NetRatings announced that they will be “adding a digital twist to a television industry institution” by launching the first-ever Internet Sweeps Month in May 2002. According to the release, the inaugural Internet Sweeps Month will determine the winner for three new awards: Rising Star, Top U.S. Property and Top Global Property, based on Nielsen//NetRatings' Internet audience rankings.

Sean Kaldor, VP of analytics and corporate marketing at NetRatings said that the May Internet Sweeps Month will “highlight what's exciting on the Web by providing consumers with the most popular sites online,” as well as giving sites “an incentive to develop their best content, drawing surfers in for a visit.”

Now, why on earth would the digital industry want to adopt the one broadcast practice that epitomizes all things evil?

Granted, “sweeps” is a word that traditional advertisers understand, but as anyone in media will tell you, it stands for a quick survey of a tiny customer sample in order to approximate what the entire population is up to, inspiring shows like that Tonya Harding/Paula Jones ignominy.

Why would the web, where actual audience can be measured 24/7/365, need sweeps? Don’t we have enough problems and bad habits of our own to break?

The “Worst Idea of Q1 2002” award hereby goes to NetRatings.

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