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Mary ann packo is a world traveler who's lived in Paris, New York and San Francisco, but these days she's busy exploring how to mine Internet user data. In the audience research business for 18 years, Ms. Packo has been involved in launching new measurement systems for a wide range of media -- from co-founding a national Yellow Pages monitor in 1988 to establishing a European market research access panel with NFO Research in 1994.

She was hired as president of Media Metrix (formerly PC Meter) in July 1996, six months after Steve Coffey founded the company to measure audience usage of digital media.

At the time, PC Meter had about 15 clients, mostly ad agencies, for which it provided monthly ratings of Web sites by traffic through monitoring its panelists' online activity through software loaded on their PCs.

Since then, the company has grown to more than 155 clients, including agencies, media companies, marketers, financial services and technology companies. And it measures not only Web site activity, but user activity across all digital media, including online services, CD-ROMs, push technology and other interactive platforms.

"It's not just about the Web any more," said Ms. Packo. "We need to be ready to adapt no matter how the tide turns."

And it's turning fast. Once the sole Web measurement company, Media Metrix now faces competition from startups RelevantKnowledge, NetRatings and a soon-to-be-launched ratings service from Nielsen Media Research (see profile of competitor Manish Bhatia on p.s5).

To keep its lead, Media Metrix is expanding into new areas such as measuring local market traffic, Web TV and electronic commerce.

"Our database is so rich, we know of every panelist, everywhere they go," she said, "We want to look at all that data to see how it can be mined for e-commerce."

And armed with these data, marketers should be able to turn "lookers" into "bookers," she said.

Betcha didn't know: Even though she lives in New York, Ms. Packo left her heart in San Francisco when she left in 1988 to live in Paris.

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