VNU Combines NetRatings,

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Continuing its buying spree, NetRatings Inc. has paid partner ACNielsen $9.6 million in stock for the 80.1 percent share of the ACNielsen joint venture it does not already own.

Announced yesterday, the acquisition is akin to a reshuffle within the portfolio of Dutch media and research giant VNU. Through subsidiaries ACNielsen and Nielsen Media Research, VNU remains a majority shareholder of NetRatings, Milpitas, CA.

With this move, NetRatings and will combine their operations into a single NetRatings brand.

ACNielsen and NetRatings jointly produce the Nielsen//NetRatings service, which tracks audiences, advertising and user activity worldwide on the Internet.

The announcement comes in the same week as NetRatings' $18.5 million cash and stock purchase of ad management firm DoubleClick Inc.'s @plan online audience measurement tool for Internet media planning, buying and selling.

@plan's acquisition itself followed an $8.5 million deal last month by NetRatings for Jupiter Media Metrix's AdRelevance online advertising measurement unit.

Also, NetRatings and Jupiter have settled a patent infringement case against NetRatings. According to the agreement, NetRatings has paid $15 million to Jupiter for patents to track computer use.

In a related transaction, NetRatings also bought Jupiter's contracts for European Internet audience measurement.

"We're trying to establish ourselves as the global standard for Internet media and market research, and these acquisitions are just steps along that strategy," Sean Kaldor, vice president of marketing and analytics at NetRatings, said of the deals.


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