Nielsen//NetRatings Continues Buying Spree, Acquires RedSheriff

Nielsen//NetRatings continues to solidify its Web market measurement dominance. On Monday, the online researcher said it bought a majority stake in Internet audience measurement company RedSheriff.

Nielsen//NetRatings spent $12 million in cash for the 58 percent stake in RedSheriff, owned by Morgan Grenfell Private Equity Ltd. Nielsen//NetRatings said that between now and the end of next month it expected to purchase more RedSheriff shares, and could soon own 100 percent of the company.

Nielsen//NetRatings is already one of the leading companies in panel-based measurement of Internet audiences. In April, it launched a census-based measurement product called SiteCensus that provides third-party data about a site's traffic. Census-based measurement is the primary focus of RedSheriff, a privately held Australian-based company with about 500 clients in 38 countries and annual revenues of about $7.5 million.

RedSheriff, founded in 1996, provides Web publishers with research and analytics. It developed a browser-based audience measurement tool that gives publishers' data on site traffic, as well as census-based rankings of where sites fit into the online industry. Census-based measurement appeals to smaller sites and countries where panels are impractical or can't be large enough to provide effective measurement.

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"The acquisition of RedSheriff allows us to offer an integrated solution for our clients," said Manish Bhatia, senior vice president of products and services at NetRatings. This will help the company provide for companies that want either NetRatings' panel-based product or RedSheriffs' logfile/census measurement. NetRatings sees the value in both services, he said. There is some overlap in clients between NetRatings and RedSheriff but not much, Bhatia said.

Eventually, NetRatings envisions that the future in integrating both census and panels will provide a fuller picture for online publishers and marketers.

"Our clients have been calling for increased clarity around the metrics provided by panel-centric research to support the growth of online advertising," explained William Pulver, president and chief executive officer of Nielsen//NetRatings.

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