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comScore Sets New Standards for Streaming Media Measurement

Reliable third-party data on streaming media consumption has been nearly impossible to come by--until now. comScore Networks, Inc., a Virginia-based market research firm, is offering a new level of insight into the world of online digital media, though that insight hasn’t come easily. The company has been providing its Media Metrix Online Video Ratings reports to its clients--mostly content providers--for several months, and in October announced some of those findings publicly. Next week, the company will release its first publicly available report, The State of the Consumer Streaming Market, for purchase on StreamingMedia.com.

"We felt it was important to get some base-level information out there beyond the reports we provide our clients," says Erin Hunter, comScore senior vice president, media and entertainment. "It’s important to dispel some of the myths about who uses streaming media and let the whole industry see just how widespread streaming activity is."

To get to the point where it could confidently release meaningful demographic information on streaming users, comScore had to overcome plenty of technical hurdles, including figuring out how to collect data in a non-invasive but reliable fashion. And though the firm admits that there are still a few challenges to conquer, senior director Janet McCabe says the time is ripe for streaming media advertising to expand.

"A couple of factors needed to come together to advance streaming as an advertising medium," McCabe says. "One is increased penetration of broadband. The second is the kind of measurement that comScore provides, which acts as the currency for buying and selling advertising in the arena."

Of course, the old adage "content is king" still applies, says Hunter. "You can stream the entire evening newscast from the ABC affliate in New York," Hunter points out. "Advertisers like VW are coming up with dozens of Web-only clips. This is clearly no longer a niche; it’s mainstream."

New Methods for Streaming Media Measurement
The precise size and reach of the streaming industry is something that vendors and advertisers have wondered about for years. comScore Networks combines new technologies with verifiable research methods to give content providers, technology decision makers, and advertisers information that allows them to make critical choices.

comScore’s research panel and proprietary technology comb millions of records each month to report digital media traffic by site, player, format, and protocol. More interesting, though, is its ability to match each record to demographic data. This allows a first-ever look into not only what’s being streamed, but who’s streaming it.

So how big is online digital media? Here are some statistics, according to the company:
• In August 2005, 97.6 million people listened to or watched 7.1 billion audio and video files on the Web.
• More than 40 million consumers view or listen to streaming content from work, while nearly 50 million stream content from home.
• Work users spend far more time streaming overall. The average person spent more than six hours in August listening or watching at work, largely due to online radio. Home users listened or watched for an average of two hours in August.

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