Nielsen’s new online measure

The Nielsen Company is hoping that its new product will help advertisers and media companies measure their investments more accurately. At the opening of Advertising Week in New York, Nielsen announced its Online Campaign Ratings service, which is intended to provide online advertising data comparable to Nielsen’s television ratings.

The product will measure online advertising campaigns, including video and display ads, and will expand Nielsen’s reach beyond its current opt-in measurement panels for television and online media.

The service will allow the company to combine data from its panels with data from third-party contributors, like Facebook, to more accurately measure how many people are viewing advertisements online.

For example, if a user logs on to Facebook (a Nielsen media partner) and then visits another Web site where an ad that Nielsen is tracking is shown, Nielsen will put a pixel in the ad that will prompt Facebook to send Nielsen the age and gender of the people who viewed the ad. Nielsen insists that the data will be viewed in the aggregate and not on an individual basis. According to Nielsen, third parties will not know what site the user came from or the identity of the advertiser.

Nielsen can then match the I.P. address of the pixel to see if the person is also on a Nielsen panel. If so, the information from the third-party partner can be combined with the panel demographics. “It gives a very accurate read of who’s looking at a campaign,” Steve Hasker, president of media products for Nielsen, said. “Marketers, agencies and media companies will be able to look at the value of a spot on television and online.”

Ari Paparo, executive vice president of product at Nielsen, said the service did not allow for retargeting ads to users, did not use HTML 5 or any other form of local storage and could be managed by allowing users to opt-out by going to Nielsen’s Web site or by setting one’s browser to disallow third-party cookies.

“In any product that we develop, privacy is paramount,” Hasker said. The product will begin testing in the United States in the fourth quarter and will be available for commercial use in 2011. Nielsen has partnered with Procter & Gamble, Verizon Wireless and the media companies Starcom MediaVest and Facebook for the testing phase.

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