November 3-4, 2010  |  New York, NY
Published: November 11, 2010
Raising the bar on online audience measurement

With myriad media channels and access points, marketing campaigns need help to accurately capture audience insight and deliver actionable results. Take a look at Nielsen's powerful new solution to the problem.

Today, it's no longer enough to have a general idea of who your audience is and how clearly your advertising messages are reaching them. Yet, truly accurate audience measurement has remained somewhat elusive, despite some of the strongest minds in metrics working on the problem.

With so many channels and access points, marketing campaigns, particularly display campaigns, need help to accurately capture all sources of data and deliver campaign results that reflect a site's engagement and conversion potential.

At a Spotlight presentation at ad:tech New York, Shiven Ramji, VP of media solutions at Nielsen, highlighted some of the innovations that his company has developed to address these measurement imperatives, as well as to transform impressions into a clearer picture of who is viewing online ads. In essence, these latest Nielsen products provide online campaign ratings that are comparable to its industry-leading ratings for TV and other media.

Ramji characterized the currency of the online industry as an impression that is based on "volumetrics" rather than true audience insight. Such insight is generally gathered either from panel surveys or from tags on a website -- each of which can leave considerable gaps in the data delivered to marketers.

In contrast, Nielsen's latest online campaign ratings solution is a hybrid system that uses both methods -- people-based panels and comprehensive, tag-based measurements -- to provide greater depth and dimension to what's being measured. The system also alleviates some of the pitfalls of older options, such as sample size issues and impersonal measurements that only reflect computer presence, rather than human behavior.
The process
With Nielsen's online hybrid audience measurement system, participating publishers would be able to place a Nielsen tag on their content. When the tag executes on a user's browser, Nielsen would record and collect this data, which it would then filter to remove non-human traffic, blocked IP addresses, auto-refreshes, and international traffic.

From there, publisher data of who viewed the ad can be calibrated and collated with Nielsen's panel data, which reveals information on what was being viewed and in what context. This information can then be used to deliver campaign ratings based on reach, frequency, and GRP, which in turn can be organized by criteria that includes audience demographics, site-specific information, and daily reach build. 

According to Ramji, this process provides direct, real-time feedback and clearer audience insights without compromising their privacy. Other benefits of Nielsen's system include accurate reflections of page activity, reliable and consistent reporting of reach, standardization and data integrity, and scalable campaign coverage -- all in an easy-to-implement system.

For advertisers, this provides a high level of accountability, improved online planning, and improved cross-media planning; media companies would benefit from its valuation of targeted buys and cross-media comparability.

Currently, the Nielsen program is in private beta, with the public beta scheduled to roll out in January 2011.

Jodi Harris is senior editor at iMedia Connection.