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ACNielsen, NetRatings Plan Global Net Measurement Service

Market research company ACNielsen Corp. and NetRatings Inc.formed a joint venture to launch a global service for tracking audiences, advertising and user activity on the Internet.

The new service, to be known as ACNielsen eRatings.com, will be marketed to site publishers, media buyers, marketers and advertisers under the Nielsen//NetRatings brand.

The venture will cover Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa, and will begin tracking Internet audiences and advertising by the end of the first quarter next year, the companies said.

ACNielsen has an 80 percent stake in the business, with NetRatings owning the remainder. In addition, ACNielsen will purchase a 10 percent stake in NetRatings for $12.5 million, and Michael P. Connors, ACNielsen's vice chairman, will be appointed to the NetRatings board of directors.

"There is a clear and immediate need for a global industry standard to measure audience behavior and advertising on the Internet, and this venture will provide that standard for clients," said Nicholas L. Trivisonno, chairman and chief executive officer of ACNielsen.

"NetRatings' superior technology, combined with ACNielsen's unmatched market coverage and research expertise, enables us to offer the first comprehensive, global view of both traditional media and Internet audiences," said David J. Toth, president and chief executive officer of NetRatings.

Last year, NetRatings formed a strategic alliance with Nielsen Media Research Inc. to create Nielsen//NetRatings, the Internet audience measurement service that covers the United States and Canada. That service now has 140 clients.

ACNielsen provides global television and radio audience ratings, advertising expenditure measurement, print readership services and custom media research.

ACNielsen will initially introduce the Nielsen//NetRatings service in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, with additional markets coming online thereafter. By the end of 2001, the company said the service is expected to cover more than 30 countries and about 90 percent of the world's Internet audience.

ACNielsen said it plans to spend about $50 million over the next two years to roll out the service. Nielsen Media Research shares a common heritage with the ACNielsen Co.

The companies split up in 1996 as part of a strategic restructuring. Before that, both companies had been part of A.C. Nielsen, which was founded in 1923.