Ratings Services Rush The Net

THERE'S A RACE TO BECOME THE ACNIELSEN OF THE NET--and it includes Nielsen itself. On Mar. 30, NetRatings, a startup backed by Hitachi, is entering a fragmented market and launching a service to rate the popularity of Web sites. Nielsen plans to join the fray this summer. "As the Internet moves to TV, it becomes much more important to us," says Manish Bhatia, Nielsen's vice-president of interactive services. At stake: sales of ratings to help advertisers gauge audience size as they spend more on Net ads, which could hit $8 billion by 2002.

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