BEIJING: Nielsen Online has launched a joint venture with Beijing Zhongqian Wangrun Information Technology, forming the first company with official permission to publish internet data covering everything from the level of web traffic to online adspend in China.

While Nielsen started tracking internet usage in China for its clients seven years ago, the new venture – named CR-Nielsen – will have access to more extensive data and analysis.

Its partner in the scheme is the owner of ChinaRank, which publishes regular ratings of the country's most popular websites.

Itzhak Fisher, Nielsen Online's executive chairman, said: "Not only is measurement and online marketing, and insights of the digital world in China, important for the Chinese companies, it is very, very important for companies worldwide."

In its first official release, CR-Nielsen said search engine was the most popular website in China in the second week of September, with some 171m unique users.

Instant messaging portal (117m users) and news-to-dating portal (108m users) were second and third, followed by Google (81m users).

Online display adspend totalled 4.6 billion yuan ($675m; €498m; £394m) in the first half of 2008, with recruitment website top spender, with an outlay of 121m yuan.

Sports company Lining was second (108m yuan), with Nike, Coca-Cola, L'Oréal, Mazda, Toyota and Hewlett-Packard making the top 20 by spend.

In time, CR-Nielsen will roll out its media monitoring program to cover television viewing behaviour, as well as tracking the products consumers buy on the high street.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal; additional content by WARC staff