Google is set to announce Ad Planner tomorrow, a tool designed to help media buyers at ad agencies determine which websites offer up the best audience for their clients. The tool, which seems to be an enhanced version of the recently released Google Trends for Websites, will allow media buyers to use both Google’s own internal server data as well as third-party information to view demographic data on users across websites, zeroing in on relevant ad inventory. It’s unclear how much more information Ad Planner will provide — Google Trends for Websites currently only shows user’s country of origin, other sites visited, and common search terms.
Ad Planner will mean researching online media buys are yet another thing Google will let users do for free. The service will put Google in direct competition with Nielsen Online and comScore, the two other major firms offering audience research information today. While both charge for their information, Google’s Ad Planner will reportedly be free of charge.
The news comes after years of frustration from advertisers and publishers with comScore and Nielsen Online’s numbers. The Internet Advertising Bureau found marked discrepancies between comScore and Neilsen Online’s reported numbers and member websites’ own internal logs. In one case, Nielsen Online reported mlb.com drawing in 6.2 million monthly users, while mlb.com’s internal metrics showed over 19 million. Nielsen Online and comScore have agreed to audits in 2007 by the Media Ratings Council, audits that have yet to be completed.
News of the audience research tool broke in the New York Times and Washington Post this afternoon. Wayne Lin, a Business Product Manager at Google, will unveil the tool tomorrow at the Advertising Research Foundation’s conference. The news leaked out when the conference put up an announcement of the new service, before yanking it back down. (As the NYT notes, the release can still be found in Google’s cache.)