- The Washington Times - Monday, October 9, 2000

Magid Abraham last year took his skills as an old-school traditional market researcher and applied them to the Internet.

His venture, Comscore Networks Inc. in Reston, which tracks the on-line behavior of 1.3 million consenting Internet users and sells the information to companies with an on-line presence, has already attracted two major clients: Kraft Foods Inc. and Pets.com.

The company tracks where consumers spend their money as well as how often and how long consumers will wait for a download before they get frustrated and leave a site.

"Consumers are basically given an opportunity to voice what they like and what they don't like," Mr. Abraham said. "Companies benefit from knowing what consumers like versus what consumers don't really care about."

Mr. Abraham started the company last year by collecting more than a million users willing to be tracked in exchange for faster Internet speed.

Depending on the analysis, each company can have a customized research report ranging in price from $50,000 to $2 million annually.

Comscore gives information to companies about their competitors' offerings, how many visitors those sites receive, even how much money those sites generate.

"The market becomes more efficient when there's efficient info about what's being spent," Mr. Abraham said.

The companies can also purchase a database of information on its users from Comscore to find out what they have purchased in the past, how much they spend and past complaints from site users.

"Those customer files are used to generate consumer targeting approaches as well as personalized content," Mr. Abraham said. "Based on what you know, you may offer them something better for their needs."

Mr. Abraham is working on services for investors that could be available in about six months. Comscore will provide investors information about revenue, traffic and quality of sites to assist them in their analyses of companies.

"We were very interested because [Comscore was] going to be the first to measure revenue, not just audience or traffic," said Chris Deyo, president of Pets.com in San Francisco.

"Measuring revenue is the metric at the end of the day that is going to matter," he said. "It's the metric that helps Pets.com improve its bottom line."

Mr. Deyo said competing marketing Web sites such as Media Metrics or Nielsen Netratings in New York City, only give one-half, and in some cases, only one-quarter of the necessary market information a company needs to have a successful electronic commerce site.

Pets.com buys information from Comscore about its competitors' promotions and what kinds of promotions its users would prefer, as well as information about visitors to its own site.

"We have had a number of situations where the insight helps a company market more profitably," Mr. Abraham said.

One company found that giving on-line shoppers a $20 coupon after their first purchase was a waste of effort because without a coupon visitors would not shop on the site.

Some Web-based companies, for example, only want to know how often users abandon their Web sites or their virtual shopping carts because it takes too long for a page to download.

"We measure [users'] experience and we tell the Web sites," Mr. Abraham said.

Market research companies also have been attracted to Comscore.

Market research companies with a limited scope of on-line users are paying Mr. Abraham for more concrete information.

Forrester Research Inc., an Internet and emerging technology researcher in Cambridge, Mass., recently signed on with Comscore in an alliance to share information.

"The ability to combine our analyses of consumer attitudes, 'what they say,' with consumer purchase behavior data derived from Comscore's enormous panel, 'what they buy,' is a first in our industry and a big win for our clients," said George F. Colony, Forrester's chairman and chief executive in a statement.

STS Market Research company, also in Cambridge, Mass., is another recent affiliate of Comscore.

"By adding e-commerce information through Comscore's customer knowledge platform of Internet behavior, we will be able to provide a complete picture of the preferences of Levi Strauss' target consumer," said Art Spar, chairman of STS Market Research in a statement.

Mr. Abraham had done market research in the past for supermarkets, but realized last year that there was a much larger, untapped market for on-line research.

"When we looked at the Internet, we saw that despite a lot of the information available, there was really nobody that was focusing on measuring consumer buying behavior," Mr. Abraham said.

Mr. Abraham has grown the company from four employees to 120 in one year.



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