IAB Australia pulls support for Nielsen video metric as publishers question its accuracy

The complicated world of online video measurement has hit another snag, with the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) refusing to endorse the secondary crediting for video in Nielsen’s Digital Content Ratings (DCR) product.

Nielsen is the industry body’s preferred provider of online audience measurement, but interim IAB Australia CEO Gai Le Roy said she did not believe measuring video views from the start provided robust-enough data for media buyers and advertisers to make accurate decisions. It will not endorse Nielsen’s metric until it introduces a two-second view qualifier.

The IAB only wants consumers counted if they engage with the video for two seconds or more

The IAB noted it had stipulated for some time that for a viewer to be counted when watching a video on a website or within an app, they should have a minimum viewing time of two seconds – which is in line with the recommendations published by the Media Ratings Council (MRC) Digital Audience-Based Measurement Standards in December 2017.

Nielsen, however, has informed the market there will be a delay in delivering viewing time qualifiers for DCR until February 2019. It currently counts off-platform video views as soon as a video commences playing, which means disengaged consumers who scroll immediately past an auto-play video would be counted.

DCR’s treatment of video, therefore, is not up to the IAB’s standards.

Le Roy said although many analytics and other audience measurement tools count people from video start, IAB Australia believes that is not robust enough to calculate the audience-reach data that is needed for media buyers and advertisers to make accurate decisions.

It is the IAB’s responsibility, she said, to provide the market with the most accurate data possible.

“Audiences continue to increase their consumption of digital video and advertisers rightly continue to reinvest in this highly effective advertising option, so it is our responsibility to provide the market with the most accurate data possible,” she said.

The IAB will resume its support for DCR’s secondary crediting for video once the time qualifier is properly introduced. Until then, the IAB will only endorse video audience data which excludes Facebook secondary crediting for off-platform video content.

“The IAB continues to support Digital Content Ratings’ independent third-party measurement for digital audience measurement as it offers world’s best practice for online audience measurement and is more inclusive of both long and short-form video formats,” Le Roy said. “However there will be times when we will challenge and choose not to endorse particular metrics within the system. This is one of those times.”

Mumbrella understands Nielsen’s two deliverables – the new DCR metric and the video view qualifier – were meant to hit the market at the same time. DCR however, launched without the viewing time qualifier, which has caused disquiet amongst publishers.

Some publishers have already started to track their Facebook video activity via Nielsen on the understanding that qualifiers would be introduced this year. Others have delayed the tracking until the qualifiers are actually in place.

Mumbrella understands a number of publishers were frustrated at the apparent enormous audience swells of some other online publications – such as BuzzFeed and Mamamia – once they added the video views to their numbers.

In March, Mumbrella reported that since the video measurement was implemented, BuzzFeed’s reported daily reach in Australia appeared to increase from 250,000 to 3.5m, while Vice’s climbed from 55,000 to 300,000. Popsugar seemed to climb from 30,000 to 200,000.

Back in March, when pushed by Mumbrella on the issue of counting a zero-second view, head of media at Nielsen, Monique Perry, said it would like research firms to start building in video qualifiers. She said Nielsen would work with the IAB to make this happen.

“At the moment in Digital Content Ratings… we are measuring video starts, whether it’s on Facebook, or whether it’s a publisher’s video content,” she said at the time.

“You can certainly always look at total video starts for your total audience, but we would like research firms to start to build-in video qualifiers and that’s what we are looking at do at Nielsen, and I suspect we will work very closely with the IAB locally on what they are in this market. The current thinking is you have the video start, which is your total audience, the MRC guidelines are looking at a two-second viewing qualifier and then you might add in another one that is a 30-second qualifier.

“Nielsen won’t comment on the value of an audience or a way that a different organisation will view a metric. We have to focus on our own metric and we have to focus on metrics that are comparable across everything. At the moment we are fair. We are treating everyone fairly in video, in digital content ratings. It is all stream starts.”

A Nielsen spokesperson told Mumbrella the agreed plan with the IAB is to layer in two-second and 30-second viewing qualifiers alongside the video start-based approach. This capability will apply to both ad-supported and non ad-supported video content.

Nielsen also plans to release beta-qualified content audience data to the IAB for preview in December 2018, and release the content audience qualifiers into syndication within Digital Content Ratings by February 2019.

A number of large Australian publishers have endorsed the latest move by the IAB.

Seven West Media, News DNA and Nine Entertainment were all included in the IAB’s media release about the decision.

Seven West Media chief digital officer Clive Dickens said the industry needed to strive to further improve digital measurement to provide better clarify for clients and stakeholders. Nielsen’s current solution, he said, was not there yet.

“SWM fully supports the DCR metric as the official currency for owned and operated and secondary credited digital audiences and digital content. It is critically important that we continue to strive to further improve digital measurement to provide better clarity for our digital clients and stakeholders. Part of this investment must include an industry alignment and MRC accredited definition of the qualifying threshold of actual reach by video. The solution provided by Nielsen does not currently meet those requirements,” he said.

News DNA’s managing director, Julian Delany, said News Corp would not implement Facebook video secondary crediting until the video qualifier was in place.

“We believe that as an industry we need to be providing advertisers and agencies with the most accurate audience figures that we can, and look forward to reliable secondary video measurement as soon as possible.”

Nine’s director of product and audience, Roxanne Hoad, said the company could not endorse the new metric at this time.

“We believe the release of the metric without the qualifier impacts the credibility of our measurement currency and we look forward to working with Nielsen to align on these measurement standards. Until that time, we cannot endorse this new metric.”

The IAB’s CEO Vijay Solanki departed the organisation in June after less than two years.

Le Roy, the organisation’s director of research, is acting CEO while the board decides on a permanent replacement.

How do you solve a problem like measurement? – A timeline


25 July: Nielsen launches daily digital content ratings, provides off-platform audience measurement


26 February: Publishers’ Google Accelerated Media Pages traffic going unrecorded by Nielsen

2 March: Fairfax Media pulls out of Nielsen’s digital content ratings

13 March: Publishers question Nielsen’s Facebook measurement tool, as audiences apparently swell to 14 times their original size

7 June: How do you solve a problem like measurement? Media buyers speak about the future of Nielsen

21 June: Publishers refuse to pay Nielsen until metrics issues resolved ahead of launch of DCR Monthly next week

29 June: Digital publishers’ audiences are millions bigger than we realised, says Nielsen

2 July: BBC Global News withdraws from Nielsen and calls on IAB to look past big members’ interests

12 July: Nielsen swings continue as publishers seek to improve measurement coverage

6 August: More than one million added to Guardian Australia’s audience as DCR implements Google AMP data

Measurement will be one of the many issues tackled at Publish this year. For more information about the panel, which will take place on September 20, click here.


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.