Nielsen bids for online research dominance, plans roll-out to UK

Neilsen, which remains number one in the global research business thanks to its contract to measure US TV, is aiming for the the same dominance in online with a new service that measures online display ad ratings.

The new service rolls out to US media buyers on August 15 and will also be extended to other markets, including the UK.

Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings has been tested on 80 campaigns on 15 publishers’ sites since March and will provide advertisers with daily reports on campaigns running on Facebook and the wider web in one place, using the gross ratings points data it uses to track TV ads.

Nielsen president of media products and advertiser solutions Steve Hasker (pictured) says that early results have been “astonishing” showing that only 30 per cent of branded display advertising aimed at specific demographic groups was hitting its target. Mass market campaigns hit their targets 75 per cent of the time.

If Nielsen’s reports are accepted by media agencies and advertisers they will pose a considerable challenge to all the niche online research services available, many of which have been been acquired for large sums by, among others, marcoms giants giants WPP and Publicis Groupe.

WPP has invested heavily in its Kantar research subsidiary (number two to Nielsen in the global research stakes) to create a suite of online research tools while Publicis Groupe is thought to have generated a lead over other media agencies through its data-based Digitas and Razorfish acquisitions, costing a combined $2bn.

If Nielsen can produce a widely accepted and widely available alternative to the data many of these companies produce it will call into question their supposed market lead.

The intention to spin off the service to other markets like the UK is also significant. Online display research, unlike TV contracts, does not depend on striking agreement with local media owners and so is capable of becoming an even bigger global business.

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