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What Nielsen’s Digital Ad Ratings mean for the industry

Recently, Nielsen announced the launch of its flagship digital advertising measurement solution, Digital Ad Ratings (DAR), in seven markets across Asia and Latin America, including Singapore and Malaysia, promoting digital advertising accountability in the regions.

According to Nielsen, Digital Ad Ratings provides “the media industry with a highly accurate method of measuring online advertising audiences, delivering reach, frequency and gross rating point (GRP) metrics as well as demographics such as age and gender to determine the effectiveness of digital advertising campaigns”.

Will it be a major game-changer in the market? Media experts chimed in on what this launch meant for the industry and how it would impact their businesses.

Is it a resounding yes?

Media professionals seem to be welcoming the Digital Ad Ratings with open arms. Most are optimistic about the enhancements the new ratings will entail for the media industry in terms of strategising and delivering its business goals.

Still, some are critical of its true capabilities and see the need for a quicker change in technology to meet with rapidly changing digital habits.

Ivan Wong, managing partner for Mindshare Singapore, said the new measurement would help to ensure the efficacy of digital media investments.

“The new ratings would help in quantifying the delivery against the campaign’s target audience who are real people vis-à-vis Facebook users.”

“The inclusion of Facebook mobile activities will provide excellent cross-device measurement given how high the mobile traffic is on Facebook. When more mobile platforms are added in the coming year, it will offer a holistic cross-device measurement that should be very well received in the market.”

Meanwhile, Eileen Ooi, general manager of strategy and platforms for Maxus Malaysia, who had previously called for quicker change in research methodologies by Nielsen, highlighted the potential shortcomings of the DAR.

“It’s a clever partnership that Nielsen has struck with Facebook, given their large presence in Malaysia, which should ideally give a good indication of a campaign’s performance.”

However, there remains further to go when it comes to digital measurement, Ooi explained, “The main issue of being able to do digital planning and post measurement on digital still remains unsolved”, adding that, “Nielsen DAR will only provide post-measurement, syncing the deliveries against a planned campaign would be the next push I think Nielsen should take”.

Desh Balakrishnan, managing director at Maxus Singapore, is positive about the launch given the Digital Ad Ratings’ presence in 16 markets globally and seven in Asia allows for a common measurement with other media channels in terms of reach and GRPs.

Will agencies take to this?

Ooi said the measurement would help the industry only if this was adopted across businesses.

“Today most agencies have our own digital planning tools or post-measurement tools, though it’s not an entirely seamless process. If Nielsen is able to address the barrier, I would think the take up of this tool would be stronger.”

Balakrishnan said the measurement would help clients better understand the need for digital media. He added that before such tools, “it’s always been difficult to justify or substantiate the reach of digital in any market, to date”.

Wong agreed and said: “The similar use of measurement language will help bridge the digital-analogue divide since most marketers are familiar with these terms.”

Seeing a great potential in the new tool, Wong explained: “The anonymised use of FB users in the DAR methodology is a game-changer as it provides advertisers with the confidence the data they get is based on real people.”

He concluded that such improvements would encourage people-based marketing that would make digital advertising more attractive to brands.

What’s the big deal?

For media professionals, this measurement signals a new age for digital marketing.

Wong said: “Though the measurement is still in the nascent stage locally, DAR’s launch should complement very well the national media consumption system in providing marketers an independent validation of the outcomes of their media investments.”

Read also: MDA to create singular TV audience metrics system

On the other hand, Ooi asserted the key challenge still plaguing the industry is the lack of having a singular methodology, base and tool that can do both digital planning and post measurement.

She said: “Currently in the market, post-measurement such as GRPs and reach on digital can be dealt with using various methods – agencies’ proprietary tools, random duplication calculations and so forth.”

As for Mindshare’s Wong, he clarified that Digital Ad Ratings was a first step to closing the gaps in the measurement capabilities that were currently available.

“When the full integration of desktop-mobile into DAR is complete, the challenges we are now facing on cross-device measurements can be better addressed to help justify and fuel the growth in desktop or mobile dollars, depending on which platform delivers a stronger ROI,” he said.

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