Nobody likes banner ads. They pop up everywhere, screaming for your attention with bad colours, hawking iPhones and iPads, lagging your computer with pop-ups and animations that hurt your eyes. Advertisers often it difficult to advertise effectively within the online space because of the difficulty of accurate demographic targeting.
Later this month, the Nielsen Company will be rolling out its Online Campaigns Rating system in the US, which promises to measure online brand advertising more like the way brand advertising is measured on television – by identifying the demographics which see each ad.
Nielsen has historically used its panels (often referred to as ‘Nielsen families’) to record exactly who has watched any specific episode of television that was broadcast on the airwaves. In online, however, there hasn’t been an effective way to organise such panels and gather the demographic information required.
But through a partnership with Facebook that has been in the works since 2009, Nielsen is able to provide the demographic data on who sees what ads placed around the Internet, even if the ads aren’t on Facebook itself. Advertisers can tag their ads and place them on targeted websites around the web. When the ads are viewed, Facebook searches its own user database to identify the viewer of the ad and gathers the person’s demographic information (but not personally identifiable information) and sends it to Nielsen, thus allowing Nielsen to report back to advertisers on who saw their ads and where. The panel represents the alliance between Nielsen and Facebook to bring attitudinal and purchase intent surveys to Facebook’s growing audience.
The Online Campaign Ratings system is somehow like the digital equivalent of ‘gross rating points’, the advertising world’s system of measuring television’s reach. Until now, online advertising has worked great for direct response advertising, but not as well for brand advertising which focuses on measuring reach.
‘Online advertising hooked itself to certain metrics that did not have anything to do with the other mediums out there,’ Nielsen’s senior vice president of Online Campaign Ratings, Charles Buschwalter says. ‘Many brand advertisers have been on the sidelines because they haven’t been convinced that they can build brands online.’
OCR will allow brand advertisers to measure exactly who views the ads placed, instead of limiting brand advertisers to ‘pre-buying’ demographics by placing ads on certain sites. It will be available in the US starting August 15 as a subscription service, offered to advertisers and publishers – hopefully it will be introduced in Australia as well, where Facebook has a super penetration rate of 62% of the online population. Nielsen’s future plans of bringing in more publishers alongside Facebook will also help generate accurate demographic data for advertisers.