LONDON (CNNfn) - Lycos' claim to be the world's second most popular website has been threatened by the release of conflicting market share data, according to a report published Monday.
Lycos shares soared by a third last week after Internet ratings agency Media-Metrix said it had overtaken Yahoo! to claim second spot behind America Online's AOL.com with a home market penetration of 45 percent, according to the Financial Times.
However, new data from rival media agency Nielsen/NetRatings claims that Lycos reaches just 33 percent of homes, well below AOL (AOL), Yahoo! (YHOO) and Microsoft (MSFT).
The two agencies use different methodologies with Nielsen excluding Internet access at work but including less-frequent users.
The rival audience figures could be damaging to Lycos as market share data has been a key determinant of Internet company valuations, said the report.
Lycos (LCS) is currently negotiating an agreed merger with USA Networks (USAI) in the face of opposition from the Internet company's largest shareholder, CMGI.