New Firm Aims To Rival Arbitron

By David Cotriss

MeasureCast, a new streaming audio and video measurement firm based in Portland, Oregon, has launched the first service to offer secure audience measurements within 24 hours. The service aims to compete directly with Arbitron, which has been in the audience measurement business since the 1940's and has measured streaming media since October 1999.

MeasureCast was founded in late Summer of 1999 and is funded by Seattle-based FBR CoMotion Venture Capital. According to Bill Piwonka, VP of Marketing for MeasureCast, "founder and CEO Randy Hill recognized that streaming was going to be a big industry with lots of growth potential. He also recognized early on that online broadcasters had to be ad-supported, and that advertisers wouldn't support it without having specific and detailed measurements in a timely manner." This follows logically from the fact that online media and advertising allow for much more precise measurements in general than traditional media.

24-hour reporting is a key distinction of the MeasureCast Streaming Audience Measurement Service. MeasureCast's data is available within 24 hours on the company's website - www.measurecast.com - whereas Arbitron's data may not be available for several months. As Piwonka explains, "in the Internet economy, you need this data right away -- the next day. Advertisers can't afford to wait to determine the best times and places to run their ads. Quick reporting also provides quick results so advertisers know if they got the results they expected."

While it is generally known that speed is crucial for online success, Thom Mocarsky, VP of Communications for Arbitron, New York, says that while new production technologies are being developed to release their data more often, "daily is not the way advertisers will want data. No one buys TV advertising based on overnight ratings even though they are available." He goes on to explain that online audiences for streaming content are smaller, so there's a desire to aggregate data over time (into batches) for more valid results. He also says that Arbitron is building a service to make its data available on the Web so all can view data on their own campaigns and those of competitors, but that the service won't be available until 2001.

Of course, the market will ultimately determine the value of fast data reporting. This isn't MeasureCast's only claim to fame. According to Piwonka, accuracy is another area being tackled by the new entrant. "We use server-side technology called Active Event Monitoring that records the exact number of people in the audience," he explains. Furthermore, this makes the data tamperproof since it is reported directly from the server rather than being collected as log files from the server and converted to text files, which can be tampered with. On this point, Arbitron has partnered with Seattle-based software developer Lariat to retrieve data directly from the server in aggregate, technology that wil

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