Nielsen invests in I/Pro

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From its start, Internet Profiles Corp. has said it wanted to be the "Nielsen" ratings system of the Internet. Now it appears to have gotten its way.

Nielsen Media Research is forming a strategic alliance with I/Pro to provide a range of audience measurement and evaluation services for the Internet. As part of the agreement, Nielsen will assume an equity interest in I/Pro.

The alliance provides I/Pro with an important shot of credibility and name recognition from Nielsen as it seeks to establish itself within an increasingly expanding field of online marketing and media research providers.

For Nielsen, the deal represents another in a growing string of interactive media ventures that the TV ratings grand-daddy hopes will provide a base for making the transition to measuring interactive TV and online services.

Under the terms of the agreement, Nielsen and I/Pro will jointly market and brand I/Pro's two World Wide Web services: I/COUNT and I/AUDIT, which will be renamed Nielsen I/Pro I/COUNT and Nielsen I/Pro I/AUDIT. The companies also plan to jointly develop new Internet measurement products and services.

I/COUNT is a measurement system open to all Web browsers that enables Web site owners to track usage on their sites. I/AUDIT is an independent auditing and verification service that produces monthly and quarterly audience usage reports similar to those used by print and broadcast media.

I/PRO has completed a second round of funding through a significant equity investment by an equity investment fund managed by Nielsen parent Dun & Bradstreet.

Other Nielsen new media initiatives include a partnership formed earlier this year between Nielsen, ASI Market Research and Yankelovich Partners called ANYwhere Online that plans to develop a range of qualitative research services for online media. Nielsen also has begun an independent Internet demographic survey in association with CommerceNet.

Rivals including Arbitron Co. are also circling the Internet waters, and a battle for Internet ratings dominance is likely to ensue.

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