Nielsen now keeping tabs on Internet

NEW YORK — Nielsen Media Research and its partner on the Web, Internet Profiles Co., have developed a new Web auditing technology that promises to tell advertisers how many people are really looking at Web sites.

This could potentially solve one of the biggest problems businesses face on the Internet: accurately measuring how many people actually see the content on Web sites.

“What we have created is a built-in system that essentially follows the content (on a Web site) to the user’s PC and keeps track of how it’s consumed,” said Nielsen Interactive Services director Manish Bhatia.

Nielsen, in its effort to bring the dominance it enjoys in TV ratings to the Internet, bought a minority stake in San Francisco-based I/PRO in 1995. The partnership has since established itself as far and away the most used auditing service on the Web, counting among its more than 350 clients Netscape, Yahoo! and ABC’s and CBS’ online entities.

Yet Nielsen-I/PRO does not have the market sewn up: Several Web measurement outfits are competing to become the dominant auditing service on the Internet. Previous clients CNN Interactive and MSNBC, for example, recently left Nielsen-I/PRO for other measurement services, and representatives of a current client, ABC, say the network is considering other options for auditing of its Web site.

And one competitor beat Nielsen to the punch with its own digital measurement system: MatchLogic came out with its TrueCount technology a month ago, and has partnered with the Audit Bureau of Circulations’ Internet arm, ABC Interactive in providing the service. But unlike Nielsen, MatchLogic is an online advertising management services firm and not exclusively a measuring outfit.

In addition to its new measuring technology, Nielsen is currently testing a panel measurement system based on the company’s TV rating model. Nielsen will place devices in the home computers of a sample group of U.S. households that will monitor the family’s Web usage, essentially serving the function as the TV boxes used by Nielsen households. The service is set to roll out by mid-1998.

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