As soon as Tuesday, Google plans to unveil a new service that measures Internet use, according to advertising executives who have been briefed on it. The tool is intended to help advertisers identify the best places to buy online ads by telling them which Web sites their target audiences visit.
Google's approach, aimed at bolstering its ad-sales business, could pose a major threat to the Web measurement services that are available now, ad executives say. The two main players in the business -- comScore and Nielsen Online -- gather data on Internet use largely by tracking what panels of people do online or by conducting surveys, and their results can be inconsistent and incomplete. Google's new offering will be based mostly on data from Web servers, allowing for a deeper and broader view of Internet use. And unlike the services from comScore and Nielsen, Google's will be offered to marketers free, according to ad executives.