As Online Ad Growth Slows Elsewhere, Nielsen Ramps Up China Ventures

This story was written by David Kaplan.
With China's internet audience estimated at 250 million and growing as the U.S. online ad market slows, Nielsen is hoping for a little balance by expanding its partnerships to measure China's media use. The company has struck a joint venture with Beijing media usage tracker ChinaRank, WSJ reports. This isn't Nielsen's introduction to China. It has monitored TV viewing and other media there for the past 25 years and has been tracking China's internet use for individual clients seven years ago. Nielsen is also working with Beijing Zhongqian Wangrun Information Technology on releasing data publicly for the web entire market. Rival audience measurement company comScore (NSDQ: SCOR) also tracks online use in China, but it doesn't put out the numbers publicly.

While growth in online advertising has been cooling lately, China's online-ad market is still nascent. Even with the tremendous uncertainty about what impact a global recession will have on web ad dollars, China still seems poised for growth.  Display ad expenditures in China are very small compared to the U.S., which is nearly $6 billion, with $675.4 million spent there in H108, according to the first set of data from CR-Nielsen, as the venture is called.

The Chinese online market is heavily dependent on automotive, computer and electrical and fashion industriesso a slowdown could halt that expected growth. But over the long-term, the deals give Nielsen a strong position in the country, as it will have greater access to local content and analysis. It will also have the ability to expand its monitoring to all media usage, including TV and retail purchases. WSJ says that Nielsen's and ChinaRank's joint-venture has the option to go public in the U.S., that's probably a while away at this point.

By David Kaplan