SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – Quantcast today announced the first open Internet ratings site that will enable Web publishers and advertisers to easily understand Web demographic trends.

The free service will help Web content publishers of every size obtain audience measurement resources that were previously only available to the big-budget sites. It will also enable advertisers to access highly refined audience segments that match their brand and product to effectively target elusive online audiences.

Quantcast’s Internet ratings site promotes openness and accessibility to accurate data by allowing web publishers to contribute directly to the service. Via a simple sign-up process, the owner of any Website or blog can install a Quantcast measurement pixel to better reflect their visitors. As a result, small publishers can attract the higher media rates that have traditionally only been achieved by large sites with substantial research and dedicated sales teams.

Quantcast aims to fuel the growth of upper-funnel advertising (branding and awareness) on the Internet in the same fashion the major search engines have driven success for lower-funnel advertising (direct response). Most of the $70 billion spent annually on US television advertising is focused on the upper funnel, which presents a huge opportunity as media consumption on the Internet continues to increase.

“Companies such as Google have revolutionized direct response advertising online. Now it’s time to revolutionize online branding,” said Konrad Feldman, co-founder of Quantcast. “Through the introduction of this audience search engine we want to make demographics as integral to Web advertising as ratings points are to television.”

The free service is powered by analytical technology developed by engineers and scientists from NASA, Stanford and AltaVista. Quantcast categorizes hundreds of thousands of sites and their audiences according to standardized characteristics such as demographics, psychographics and buyer-graphics, including age, gender, income, ethnicity and other information.