Mobile market measurements to monitor the audience for media, content, messaging and downloads.
A company that monitors moblie markets, producing detailed reports on just who has used what services on what handsets and networks, is expanding into major Western European markets in 2006.
M:Metrics, which has been producing syndicated market data for mobile operators, their partners and clients, in the USA for around nine months, and in the UK and Germany for three, is adding, in the second quarter of this year, France, Spain and Italy to the markets it has under surveillance.
M:Metrics gathers its information by polling 5,000 different users each month in a given market. Using a market research company to carry out demographically balanced online polls, the company asks users which handsets they have, which services they have used in the past month and so on. Added to this the company is continously updating a complete database of which handsets are available on which netoworks, what OS and applications platforms they run etc It also monitors what services an operator offers, what it is promoting on-portal, what it's market share is in a market.
From this, the company can produce detailed reports which benchmark the performance of handsets, services and operators against the market.
For instance, as a result of its December survey into the UK and German markets (the reports will now go monthly) M:Metrics found that 1,664,000 users in the UK downloaded a mobile game in the month, twice the number of German subscribers to do so.
But the numbers can go so much deeper. A subscriber to the results could see which games were downloaded, onto which handsets on which networks, on which developer platforms using which gaming engines. You could, for instance, compare uptake of those on Brew and Java, or a Nokia versus a Sony Ericsson.
The uses are obvious. Operators can use the information to benchmark themselves against their competitors. Media and content partners can see which are the best platforms and channels to give their product maximum exposure.
As M:Metrics was established by people with a background in media monitoring and measurement, as well as mobile, and is part-funded by and giant advertising company, you can see where this is going. As content grows and mobile advertising becomes a reality, the need for a reliable monitoring tool tracking investment will be palpable.
Of course, the potential downside is that M:Metrics' information is unreliable or unrepresentative. The samples could be wrong, people could lie in their surveys, the results could give a false impression of actual market activity.
But managing director Herve Le Jouan said that the company would soon be found out if that were the case. An operator would quickly be able to see if its own projected numbers were wrong, he argued, and so would lose trust in all the other stats. But if an operator looks at user numbers for a service and it tallies with its own records, then trust is established.
In the US, the company has had to change just three metrics in its time in operation, he claimed. In one instance, online companies providing mobile IM services thought M:Metrics' projections were high, compared to their own experiences. The company was able to change its questioning to eradicate false positives, where people were claiming erroneously to have used mobile IM.
At the moment the service has 50 subscribers in the US, where $75,000 gets you three users, with one being a designated power user able to request additional detailed reports and information.
In Europe, with a larger area to survey and sample, the cost will be nearer $120,000 for three seats, Le Jouan said.