Audited sites go dark on data as Nielsen arrangement ends

audited media association of australia logoOnline publishers will be without an audited online metric for at least the next month after the Audited Media Association of Australia finally called an end to its relationship with Nielsen.

It was already known that the AMAA’s arrangement with Nielsen would come to an end after the company declined to join a tender for the business.

It is believed that ComScore and Effective Measure are the two suppliers vying for the account.

After the tender process took longer than anticipated, Nielsen offered to temporarily go on providing the data to publishers which extended coverage through September.

But the AMAA has now told members that they should remove Nielsen’s tags from their sites – or face additional fees.

The AMAA has made a recommendation to the AMAA board for who the new supplier should be, and the winner will be announced on October 21, ahead of the audit organisations annual conference two days later.

Members will then have just ten days to install new tags onto their sites before auditing resumes from November 1.

Paul Dovas, CEO of the AMAA told Mumbrella: “It makes  sense for there now to be a break before we move to the new provider.”

While a number of providers measure online audiences, the AMAA provides standards on what can and cannot be reported. For instance, autorefreshed pages cannot be counted for an audit.

Dovas said that the scope of the new system had grown and would include the possibility of offering audit of readership on devices such as tablets. A conundrum for the association has been how to measure usage of apps, and particularly free ones where no subscription fee has been paid. Until now, there has been no audited number available for readership of free publication apps.

He said: “It will be a much more complete service.”

The note from the AMAA to members warned them to drop Nielsen by close of business this Friday. It said: “Please ensure you have the Nielsen tag code removed from your sites by C.O.B. Friday 4th October to avoid any data fees for the month of October.”

It continued: “The new reporting will re-commence through an enhanced version of our eData system from December 1, and you will continue to have access to your historical (existing) data, also through our eData system.

“If you wish to remain in the Nielsen system after September, you will need to approach Nielsen directly and establish a contract with them. We can provide you with a Nielsen contact who can discuss this with you. Please note that after September, we will no longer endorse, audit or apply green tick status to Nielsen’s data or system.”

Meanwhile, specialist publisher Conversant Media, which owns sports website The Roar, has raised questions about the accuracy of Nielsen’s reporting.

A blog post from digital sales manager Phillip Mahoney suggested that Nielsen’s panel based audience was throwing up unlikely results for The Roar. While The Roar’s own surveys suggest a 95% male audience, Nielsen reports it as 50-50, he said.

And while internal analytics point to monthly page impressions of 2.7m and Effective Measure 2.2m, Nielsen reported just 525,000.

He added:

“It’s clear there’s concern around the veracity of the data coming from Nielsen. But in their defence, Nielsen admit to many of these issues. They are reaching out to businesses in the market, like ours, to tackle some of these issues. But it remains a hard pill to swallow for small publishers where audience reporting is a critical part of our mix.

“Media dollars are being spent on the basis of this reporting. And when such clear issues remain in Hybrid, it is costing publishers and clients alike.

“Subscribing to Nielsen is expensive and it’s problematic to incur such costs knowing your audiences aren’t being activity represented and the AMAA will soon be using a competitive service.

“Where to from here?

“We’ve written this post to highlight our frustrations experienced in the market. And also to call for a change from Nielsen to both communicate the limitations of their data, and secondly, to address these problems quickly and correctly.”

Nielsen told Mumbrella:

“Any content provider – on line, radio or TV with small audiences are necessarily harder to accurately measure. Roar for example has a reach of less than 1% of the active online audience. It doesn’t make their site less valuable to advertisers, just harder to read.

“Some sites that have these smaller reaches tag their sites – including their mobile sites, so that companies like Nielsen can use the hybrid solution. Roar do not. Using this approach adds real value to the data quality of smaller sites.

“Page Impressions is an area that gets a lot of people confused. Some count auto-refresh or pags that refresh small amounts of content. Nielsen’s Hybrid solution does not – it’s a way of discounting photo-galleries and score-cards. It’s a way to read content that a user asks to download – and fully downloads.

“Page Impression numbers get stronger when then are tagged as well. Again sites with smaller reach often tag their site to lift the quality of the data. Currently Roar do not use this. Genuine audience metric are at the heart of our approach – and the bulk of the market is working well with “traffic” numbers from our overnight Market Intelligence service as well.

“Finally comparing internal analytics with independent market measurements like Nielsen is prone to real issues of scope : in short often we don’t compare apples with apples.”

Tim Burrowes


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