Nielsen Ups The Ante In The Online Measurement Game

From those wonderful folks who gave us the de facto standard in television ratings comes “Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings,” announced last week. This is tacit recognition by a major force in the measurement business that the online world is now worth measuring.

Of course, online marketers have known this all along. But despite lots of measurement tools, there remains a lack of standardization in web measurement. As I discussed in a previous article, the IAB has been anxious to reach a “gold standard” in web measurement, and a firm like Nielsen could well provide the cachet and credibility to make it happen.

There are other firms, most notably comScore, that already provide online measurement services, but Nielsen is going to flex its considerable muscle and may well trump all of them. The company claims it will provide audience data comparable to Nielsen’s television ratings; in other words, Nielsen intends to become King of the Online Hill, too.

Significantly, Nielsen is broadening its measurement approach beyond online in recognition of the success of media integration. “Marketers and media companies alike will now have a simpler way to measure the combined reach of TV, the web and even mobile advertising,” says Steve Hasker, President of Nielsen’s Media Product Leadership and Advertiser Solutions. “Reach alone doesn’t tell the whole story, however, and Nielsen intends to combine the ratings with cross-platform advertising effectiveness metrics to provide a complete view.”

Nielsen says it will combine traditional Nielsen TV and online panel data with “aggregated, anonymous demographic information from participating online data contributors.” As a result, Nielsen will be able to provide reach, frequency, and Gross Rating Point (GRP) measures for online advertising campaigns of nearly any size, running virtually anywhere on the web. GRPs have become the standard way of measuring the size of an audience reached by other media, so applying GRPs to the online world is a pretty big deal if Nielsen can pull it off.

And why shouldn’t they? Nielsen can put major resources into its new measurement product. Nielsen is a multi-billion dollar private global player who big advertisers and big online website owners will likely trust.

Nielsen is testing Online Campaign Ratings with the likes of Procter & Gamble, Verizon Wireless, and Facebook late this year with the intention of making the product available in 2011. The company will submit the new measurement system to the Media Ratings Council for accreditation.

Advertisers and media companies alike are welcoming the news. For example, Kate Sirkin, Executive Vice President of Global Research for Starcom MediaVest, a leading media company, says:

“This initiative will advance a big measurement challenge facing digital – providing planners and buyers with a better understanding of the actual ratings a campaign delivered against a desired audience. It will provide a more accurate picture of impressions delivered by different sites to different demographics. It will improve our understanding of the duplication between TV and online.”

Nielsen is careful to point out that its system is designed to measure the audience composition of a particular advertisement “and cannot be used for targeting web users.” The company does not want to get into tracking consumers from one website to another, and it will allow consumers to opt-out of inclusion in its measurement system.

This is an intriguing development, one worth watching as the testing phase proceeds. Clearly Nielsen is making a play to own multimedia measurement and the chances are good the company will succeed.

About Barry Silverstein

Barry Silverstein is a freelance writer/marketing consultant. In addition to writing for ReveNews, he is a contributing writer to, the world’s leading online branding forum. He is the author of three marketing books, The Breakaway Brand (co-author, McGraw-Hill, 2005), Business-to-Business Internet Marketing (Maximum Press, 2003) and Internet Marketing for Technology Companies (Maximum Press, 2003). Barry ran his own Internet and direct marketing agency for twenty years. You can find Barry on Twitter @bdsilv.

2 Responses to Nielsen Ups The Ante In The Online Measurement Game

  1. Pat Grady says:

    Nielsen, lil tip for ya…

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