The Most Trusted Name In TV Ratings Now Working To Improve Online Metrics

It’s funny, we’re always hearing about how the online space is so measurable, therefore attractive to advertisers; yet, how often do we ask what exactly is being measured and by whom? Because measuring clicks is a direct marketing practice that does nothing to explain the overall value of an online ad.

Enter the Nielsen Company–the firm that uses “gross ratings points,” to help explain the value of an ad on a particular TV show. It’s a system advertisers have come to trust, and when there are billions of dollars on the line, trust is necessary to create a degree of comfort.

According to E.B. Boyd of Fast Company:

The Online Campaign Ratings system, which rolls out later this month, promises to measure brand advertising online more like the way it measures brand advertising on television–by identifying which demographics actually see each ad.

This will allow advertisers to make apple-to-apple comparisons between the new medium, whose impact on brand advertising has remained elusive, and the old medium, in whose powers brands have complete confidence. As a result, advertisers may finally be willing to invest more online, and possibly even pay more for the privilege.

Nielsen has teamed up with Facebook to provide the demographic data on who sees ads placed around the Internet–even if those ads aren’t placed on Facebook itself–sort of like a real-time, always-on Nielsen family. But Facebook doesn’t know all there is to know, so Nielsen will need to add more media company firepower to their bench for their new Online Campaign Ratings to fly.

[UPDATE] Michael Learmonth at Ad Age argues: “Being judged alongside TV could also expose online advertising’s biggest weakness: While it’s great at getting clicks or conversions, it’s not so great at branding. A direct translation could end up highlighting the limited impact of a tiny box in comparison to the sight, sound and motion of TV. It could also expose some of the bigger ills of online advertising such as s bad creative, cluttered environments, hidden ad units and sketchy placements.”



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.