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Nielsen Unveils New Online Advertising Measurement

5 minute read | September 2010

Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings in Development with Industry Leaders Including Facebook, Procter & Gamble and Verizon Wireless; Broader Industry Participation Welcomed

New York – September 27, 2010 – The Nielsen Company today announced the development of Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings, which will for the first time provide audience data comparable to Nielsen’s television ratings.  The new measurement system is a significant advancement for the media industry and will provide greater accuracy, faster reporting, and wider coverage than existing online measurement.

“This is a major step forward for both Nielsen and our industry.  This new system will provide marketers with a better understanding of their ROI, and will give media companies a much needed tool to prove the value of their audiences,” said Steve Hasker, President, Media Products, Nielsen.  “Perhaps most importantly, marketers and media companies alike will now have a simpler way to measure the combined reach of TV, the web and even mobile advertising.  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.”

The new system will use an innovative, patent-pending process combining traditional Nielsen TV and online panel data with aggregated, anonymous demographic information from participating online data contributors.  Using its unique approach, Nielsen will be able to provide reach, frequency and Gross Rating Point (GRP) measures for online advertising campaigns of nearly any size, running nearly anywhere on the web.  Campaign reporting will be available within just days after the launch of a campaign, providing vital delivery information in-flight to both advertisers and publishers.

While focusing first on the U.S., Nielsen intends to extend this system to appropriate key markets around the globe.

Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings will be tested with several industry leaders in Q4 of 2010 including advertisers such as Procter & Gamble and Verizon Wireless, major media agencies such as Starcom MediaVest, and Facebook. The new system is expected to be commercially available in 2011. To help evolve this metric into an accepted industry standard, Nielsen expects to welcome additional advertisers, media agencies and online publishers to participate in the learning process over the coming months.

Nielsen intends to submit this new system to the Media Ratings Council (MRC) for accreditation.

“More and more marketers are creating integrated, cross-platform campaigns and we need a better way to measure how they perform,” said Mike Murphy, Vice President, Global Sales, Facebook. “We think creative campaigns are more effective when marketers combine TV and digital in a way that extends the big idea online and makes it social through an ongoing, two-way connection.  With their expertise, Nielsen can help marketers measure the impact of true cross-platform campaigns.”

How it Works
This system is designed to measure the audience composition of a particular advertisement and cannot be used for targeting web users.  It does not track consumers from one website to another.  Consistent with its privacy standards and practices, Nielsen will enable consumers to opt-out of inclusion in this measurement system.

At the invitation of a client advertiser or website, Nielsen will request a pixel when a particular display or video advertisement is displayed in a browser. Once requested, these pixels will travel to Nielsen and to approved data contributors – including large web publishers. These pixels do not pass any information about the identity of the user, the website on which the ads appear, the sites the user visits, or the identity of the advertiser.  The contributors will provide aggregate-level reports containing reach and frequency information in anonymous age and gender buckets only.  Nielsen will then use proprietary, patented and patent-pending technology to combine these reports with data from its TV and online panels, resulting in a single report showing reach, frequency and GRPs for the advertisement.

A second process will run in parallel to match the IP address of the pixel to one of the 210 Nielsen Designated Market Areas (DMAs).

At no time will this system collect or distribute information on an individual web user.  

About The Nielsen Company
The Nielsen Company is a global information and measurement company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence, mobile measurement, trade shows and related assets. The privately held company has a presence in approximately 100 countries, with headquarters in New York, USA. For more information on Nielsen measurement products, visit

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Additional Comments On the Development of Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings
Companies representing the extended online media ecosystem, including Facebook, Procter & Gamble, Verizon Wireless and Starcom MediaVest have agreed to participate in the development of Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings.

Suzy Deering, Executive Director, Media and Sponsorships, Verizon Wireless:
“From our perspective, tools that provide greater transparency and accountability for our online marketing activities are increasingly important to our business.  We support Nielsen’s efforts and will be working with them and the various participants to make this a reality.”

Kate Sirkin, Executive Vice President, Global Research, Starcom MediaVest:
“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. It will help us become more efficient at building reach and frequency amongst our desired audiences. This type of metric is vital to planning campaigns and building brand experiences across all the different media options today. We applaud Facebook for working with Nielsen to develop the approach and encourage other sites with registered users to get involved.”

Other industry leaders, including Microsoft and Omnicom Media Group have also extended their support for the initiative.

Carolyn Everson, Corporate Vice President, Global Advertising Sales and Trade Marketing, Microsoft
“We applaud the initiative to provide an online video metric in a common language (GRPs) to marketers to facilitate greater comfort with digital advertising. When factoring in Nielsen’s insights on ad effectiveness and sales impact, online can offer a truly compelling story to advertisers and one that will improve their execution of online and cross-media campaigns.”

Michael Atkin, US Director, Media Research, Omnicom Media Group
“Creating a shared metric for cross-media measurement is an important step supporting the evolution of digital measurement that transcends the interests of any one brand, category, agency or channel. Today’s announcement from Nielsen offers the industry the potential for additional insights on multi-platform planning and buying, whenever assessment of audience exposure on a common basis is indicated.”