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Nielsen//NetRatings Gives a MarketView

Just one month after it called off its $71.2 million merger with Jupiter Media Metrix , NetRatings Inc. -- through its Nielsen//NetRatings Internet audience measurement partnership with Nielsen Media Research -- has rolled out a new Web-measurement reporting service that promises statistics based on site content rather than the technical structure of a Web-page address (URL).

Essentially, MarketView is an effort to divorce traffic numbers from URLs, organizing the statistics more logically -- by channels, brands, and parent companies -- rather than simply by their technical organization. These are especially important distinctions when one media company owns a variety of sites, or sub-sites, attracting vastly different audiences.

Parent company rankings provide an overview of the leading sites from a business perspective, highlighting audience traffic data for a group of domains and URLs owned by one single entity. The brand rankings offer a consumer-based perspective, emphasizing audience traffic data based on brand segmentation within a company, rather than ownership. And channels are the traditional content channels found in most any Web site -- sports, shopping, etc.

MarketView segments portals, like those from Microsoft's MSN and Yahoo! , based on content to accurately reflect and provide an in-depth view of their business operations and Web site classifications. For example, MS Search would be a channel in the MSN brand, the parent company of which is Microsoft. Or Yahoo! Shopping is a channel in the Yahoo! brand, the parent of which is Yahoo! Inc.

The MarketView system and reporting interface highlights the relationship or hierarchy of an organization within a parent company, officials also said. Through this segmenting, a marketer interested in a breakdown of Microsoft's sites can obtain multiple perspectives, from its various channels, including MSN Search, to its two brands, Microsoft and MSN.

In an interview, NetRatings Senior Project Manager Tamara Gaffney said the Internet -- and conversely, the Web sites of many companies and publishers -- has grown in a way that is not well planned, in terms of URL structures. "Those pieces of content, which may be very similar to each other, have been spread apart into different domains or unique sites. By putting them back together as a channel, we're allowing that content to be represented in a holistic sense."

This "channeling" will help media buyers and marketers in their targeting, which is usually based on content that's compatible with their message. "By putting all of the relevant content in one category and making sure that the channels represent all of that content and not just a portion of it, it's going to make it easier to make those placements and place their buys," she also said. "It will also make sure that (marketers and advertisers) they don't miss out on anything that's a good buy, because they didn't even know it was there."

To demonstrate its new system, Nielsen//NetRatings segmented out the Top 10 sites by both parent companies and brands. While AOL Time Warner placed first and Microsoft was second in the parent companies category, Yahoo! was first and MSN was second in brands. AOL Time Warner's AOL.com was third in the brands category, while Microsoft placed fourth.

This new service is being sold to Internet marketers, advertising pros and Web-site owners who want to see how their offerings stack up against their competitors.

The roll-out of MarketView comes almost exactly one month after NetRatings and Jupiter Media Metrix called off their $71.2 million merger agreement after federal trade officials raised competitive objections about the deal. The two companies said the Federal Trade Commission also raised objections about a loan and security agreement the two struck when they announced their acquisition agreement in October of 2001.

The decision to call off the deal came one month after the two companies announced that a patent-infringement lawsuit Jupiter had filed against NetRatings would go forward. The news set tongues wagging over whether a marriage of the two biggest Web measurement firms would happen without anti-trust objections.

Coincidentally, Jupiter Media Metrix began including channel rankings in its Media Metrix November 2001 U.S. Top 50 Web and digital media property ratings. The company's categorization structure ranks portal channels, online software applications like file-sharing and instant messaging, and commercial online services like America Online and CompuServe.