ANATOMY OF A DEAL;THE NIELSEN OF THE 'NET

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The deal: Nielsen Media Research and Internet Profiles Corp. form an alliance to jointly develop and market a range of Internet audience measurement services.

The players: Ariel Poler, president of I/Pro, and Nielsen execs, John Dimling, president-chief operating officer;Bob Lane, VP-chief financial officer;Dave Harkness, senior VP-head of Internet and Web site activities;Tom DuBois, director of technology and business strategy;Minish Vhatia, director of business planning and development.

The price: Nielsen initially invests no money into I/Pro but holds warrants that can be executed to purchase a minority equity position in the company. Parent Dun & Bradstreet participated in a second round of funding for I/Pro valued at several million dollars. Combined, the potential Nielsen and D&B investments would not exceed a minority position.

The details: Just like all the ad agencies that made alliances with multimedia developers, ratings giant Nielsen quickly realized it would be easier to link with an existing player than start from scratch on the Internet.

After meeting at the Spring Internet World Conference in June 1994, Messrs. Poler and DuBois began a serious round of talks last December.

"A lot of people have been saying that they wanted to be the Nielsen of the Internet, and we kind of thought we'd like to be the Nielsen of the Internet," said Mr. Harkness. "We discussed two ways of getting there. One was to create our own service. And the other was to tap into one of the many entrepreneurs developing their own Internet services. We decided to take the second route."

While the deal gives a lot of legitimacy to the fledging I/Pro, it's probably not the only one Nielsen will do. Mr. Harkness said Nielsen would likely strike alliances with other companies to complete its game plan for offering a wide range of interactive media measurment services, including its ultimate goal: developing a system that integrates traditional TV usage with interactive communications.

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