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Media Metrix Merges With RelevantKnowledge

Internet audience measurement firms Media Metrix and Relevant Knowledge merged Monday in a deal that will create a new giant in Internet audience management and should provide momentum needed to establish a standard to track Internet traffic.

The new company, which will be known as Media Matrix, would not elaborate on the details of the stock swap. However, the company did say it planned to expand its staff from the current 90 to 125 by 1999. Media Metrix will operate in three locations, New York, Atlanta, and San Francisco.

The companies plan to provide coverage of all digital media, including the traffic of more than 15,000 Web sites and surfing habits of more than 40,000 Internet users. The data collected is compiled into monthly, and weekly reports and also fed in real time to subscribers.

Together Media Metrix and RelevantKnowledge have more than 250 clients, such as Microsoft, AOL, Intel, IBM, GM, Yahoo!, Netscape, Excite, CNN, Disney and Amazon.com, in addition to ad agencies, financial institutions and technology companies. Media Metrix said it's client companies combined represent roughly 85 percent of the total dollars spent on Internet advertising, marketing and e-commerce.

The new entity will issue its first integrated report in December, reporting November figures sampled from 40,000 Web users. The company plans to fully integrate their measurements by the first quarter of 1999.

Drew Ianni, online advertising analyst at Jupiter Communications, said the merger should help create a standard for Web audience measurement.

"Both companies are reputable but there's been some back and forth about methodologies, how they measure and rank their findings. This will provide one flavor for an unified standard."

The companies characterized the merger as a "response to industry demand for an objective, accurate and reliable standard in Internet and digital media audience measurement." The companies said members of every online sector -- including web sites operators, advertisers, and measurement firms-- had been pushing for a better system.

"The merger creates a company that answers the industry's need for a single, accurate and reliable standard in Internet audience measurement," said Mary Ann Packo, president of Media Metrix, Inc. "Such a standard is necessary, as the industry has acknowledged that audience measurement is the driving force of Internet growth."

Another merger component is fierce competitiveness in the field, according to Ianni.

"As soon as Nielsen Media ramps up, it makes more sense for Media Metrix and Relevant to team together, building a strong relationship and leveraging their efforts." Additional contenders in the field also include PC Data.

The companies plan to offer new services in addition to audience measurement, that will include e-commerce, business-to-business usage, local market ratings and analysis. New special services will feature ad sales network reports, e-commerce measurement services, qualitative research, a line of software and technology measurement services and special industry sector market reports.

"The merger of Media Metrix and RelevantKnowledge creates a product portfolio that is without peer. By combining our efforts, we have created the ability to provide our customers with a level of service far greater than either company could have provided working alone," said Jeff Levy, vice chairman of Media Metrix. "The new Media Metrix will clearly play a leading role in shaping the industry standard for Internet audience measurement and enabling the growth of online advertising and e-commerce businesses."