Media2india's online tool promises surfer insights

By , agencyfaqs! | In Advertising | January 18, 2001
media2india has launched Web Gauge, an online research tool that aims to provide web publishers with an in-depth understanding of web dynamics

agencyfaqs! News Bureau

Integrated online marketing solutions company media2india has launched what it terms India's first truly online research product - Web Gauge - late last month. According to the company, Web Gauge provides website evaluation and visitor analysis by combining globally tested research methodologies, traditional research and state-of-the-art technology to provide the Internet community with an in-depth understanding of web dynamics. Says Pankaj Sethi, CEO, media2india. "The need to understand the behavior of Internet users and the relative strengths and weaknesses of products has spurred the need for better in-depth Internet research technologies such as Web Gauge."

The core function of Web Gauge is measurement of perceptions and surfer attitude vis--vis a specific website. "Many software tools such as Web Trends help in analyzing the traffic (by analyzing server Log files), and provide numbers on page views, visitors, error reports, top entry/exit pages and so on," says Ashish Redij, general manager, Internet research, media2india. "These numbers help in answering the 'whats', but fail to provide answers to the 'whys'. Web Gauge answers the 'whys'."

Apparently, through rigorous secondary research and a thorough understanding of web publishers' needs across various categories of websites, researchers at media2india have identified key parameters that correlate strongly with visitor satisfaction, repeat-visit rate and site stickiness. These parameters cover relevance of content, freshness of content, ease of navigation, look and feel of the site and so on.

According to media2india, in India, current online market research focuses only on traffic measurement and profiling of site visitors. And though such research solves one part of the web publisher's problem, 'softer issues' such as visitor behavior and attitude, site experience and the comparative analysis of website are not addressed.

Explaining the limitations of current online research tools, Redij says, "The approach most often used is e-mail surveys, wherein the prospective respondents are sent links to a questionnaire, and the data is collected. While this approach is suitable for studies involving specific marketing/advertising issues, it becomes largely unsuitable for 'online website evaluation'. Actual visitor experience of browsing through the site and the real time collection of data are the two key factors that need to be taken into account. E-mail surveys fail on both these counts since it is assumed that the visitor has browsed through the website being evaluated, and also that he has done so in the recent past."

In contrast, Web Gauge apparently uses media2india's proprietary pop-up software technology, which requests visitor participation in surveys. The data is subsequently collected while the visitor is still browsing through the website. "This makes the data collected more reliable and accurate, and also enables the web publisher to make faster strategic decisions," informs Redij.

With regards to the 'pop-ups', both researchers and web publishers can decide on when to throw up the pop-ups. They can either be linked to the number of visitors or the minimum time that a visitor spends on site - or a combination of both. Further, advanced programming enables the pop-ups to be tagged to various other recruitment parameters such as number of links clicked, submission of registration forms and so on. These various means of throwing the pop-ups enable the randomization of the sampling technique and selection of the visitor to interviewed.

As a counter to 'bogus' information filtering into the data, media2india assures strict confidentiality when surveys are being conducted. Also, the technology being used by media2india apparently allows it to maintain tight control on the data being collected and analyzed. However, a 5-10 per cent margin of error - due to sampling errors or fluctuations in data arising out of extreme opinions and respondent bias - is a given.

Over a period of time - and across a certain number of websites within a category - norms or benchmarks on the respective key parameters will be developed, called Web Scores. "For the first time, these scores will allow web publishers to evaluate themselves individually as well as against the category, enabling them to identify key problem areas and work their future around them," Redij points out.

The charges levied for each Web Gauge survey depends on the size and scope of the survey. media2india is apparently in advanced stages of negotiation with various web publishers for selling the tool. However, the company declined to name prospective buyers.

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