New venture to track cyber footprints

ACNielson is hoping to track more than 90 per cent of the "Internet universe" with a new online ratings service.

The new service, for tracking online audiences, advertisers and user activity has been launched by market research company ACNielson, and US-based Internet audience researcher, NetRatings.

The new service, known as ACNielson eRatings.com, will cover Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa, and will begin tracking audiences and advertising by the end of the first quarter next year.

By the end of 2001, the company plans to be able to track more than 90 per cent of the "Internet universe" - the total number of people over 14 years of age that live and/or work in a place where they can access the Internet.

ACNielson has an 80 per cent stake in the business, with NetRatings owning the remainder. In addition, ACNielson will purchase a 10 per cent stake in NetRatings for $US12.5 million.

After an extensive selection process, 7000 Australian "panellists" will be posted the company's software to install on their computer.

The panellists will then provide ACNielson eRatings with personal information via the company's Web site, which it will use to establish a demographic database. The panellists will then be monitored every time they are online.

Already operating in the US where Netratings has 37,000 panellists, the new Java-based tracking system known as Insight, "basically monitors every single click" that users make while online, according to the president of the new venture, William Pulver.

ACNielson's vice-chairman, Michael Conners expects the company to become a leading player in all aspects of Internet research.

"Establishing the standard for Internet audience and advertising measurement will position ACNielson for other Internet growth opportunities, including e-commerce measurement," Conners said.

In addition, Conners said ACNielson plans to accelerate the development and marketing of its services that use the Internet to conduct consumer research and deliver information to clients.

Conners said the company will expand its e-panel services, used to test consumer reaction to new product concepts, and its reelresearch.com service for online testing of movie trailers and advertisements for the entertainment industry.

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