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

Digital industry body IAB Australia and Nielsen have officially launched the third major stage of their digital audience measurement upgrades – daily digital content ratings.

Originally announced in 2014 after winning the IAB’s online measurement contract, Nielsen’s newest metric will give publishers, agencies and brands daily digital audience data across video, audio and text for the first time.

The launch of digital content ratings is the third major upgrade to digital measurement

Nicole Sheffield, chairperson of IAB Australia and chief digital officer at News Corp Australia, told journalists at a media briefing yesterday the new ratings would  enable daily trading.

“For those of us in the media side who are constantly having trading battles, and looking at the value of our audiences, being able to have those conversations on a daily basis really changes the maturity and the level of evolution that our medium is finally undertaking,” she said.

Digital content ratings is the third and final planned upgrade to digital audience measurement in Australia.

The first stage saw IAB Australia and Nielsen release the first Australian mobile and tablet audience data after some delays, while stage two delivered monthly digital ratings across mobile and desktop.

Nielsen’s second stage was digital ratings (monthly), which reports unique audience across desktop and mobile

Nielsen’s latest addition will provide audience reach data for over 1,000 sites, allowing digital publishers to track their off-platform audiences in addition to on-platform.

Sheffield said the delay in bringing the new form of measurement to market was due to the complexities of bringing multiple sites, publishers, platforms and data points together.

“It’s complex. We don’t have a few screens, we don’t have a physical outdoor measurement or a printed product where we can count the number of products we have,” she said.

With more than 1,000 publishers currently using the Nielsen tag in communications, Sheffield said the most exciting thing was the opportunity to view total audience, across all audience platforms, including Facebook.

“For the first time we are actually able to properly assign and hopefully be able to trade on those audiences that are connecting with our content, in environments we don’t control,” she said.

“When you think about what that means not just for us, but for brands, advertisers and agencies, it actually changes the way they can package and provide solutions.”

She said the new digital content ratings could eventually “change the model” in terms of trading.

“That’s the great thing in digital. Once you have real time, you can change the model.

“There’s so many different ways of looking at it. The logical thing is to go how do we price time of day, et cetera.

“The reality is where do you go with data like this and what Nielsen has been able to deliver, actually opens your mind to how do you keep opening up the data sets.

Sheffield: Having daily conversations “changes the maturity and the level of evolution” digital is undertaking

“As a publisher it’s a well-tuned machine. We just a) haven’t been able to trade on it and we’ve certainly not been able to bring that level of transparency to our clients, to improve the performance of their marketing and their campaigns.

“This allows us to do that.”

While she believes publishers are ready to trade daily, she said agencies aren’t there yet.

“Do I think it will move quickly? It will move quickly once people see the numbers. Once they get into the interface they are going to go ‘shit I have to sort this out.’

“It’s taking what we’ve learnt in traditional media for many, many years, and what we’ve used to trade, and marrying that with a very different trading model.

“We are so used to trading programmatically, or in terms of impressions, rather than time or pages or number of spots.”

The new measurement will also allow publishers, both large and small, to measure total audience against their competition.

“This is the first time we have this total content view, so where there are categories where you’ve had some players within the category who really lead the way in off-platform consumption, or small sites who really have quite an off-platform strategy, this is allowing you to see how you measure up against your competition from a total content perspective,” Sheffield explained.

“Now that we are adding in off-platform audiences, there are really strong categories that have not so much built their own websites, but designed them in another platform. We really have the ability to have a greater view of those.”

Digital Content Ratings will also allow publishers to differentiate audiences by day of week, device and demographic.

The new measurement will also give small publishers the opportunity to go into agencies with audience data, as well as allowing for more comparable metrics to other media, such as TV, Sheffield said.

It will also enable campaigns to be more nimble and flexible, she said.

“One of the things we are able to do with this is assess a campaign or sponsorship, and pivot mid campaign or sponsorship. For agencies, this ability to understand where you sit within the campaign.”

Asked whether the new measurement provided an opportunity to win back dollars from Facebook and Google, Sheffield said publishers wouldn’t even be able to come close without the new measurement.

But it is in the traditional space that she said the new measurement would “absolutely” help claw back dollars.

“We are seeing more and more of those dollars not being booked via the traditional means. Therefore that becomes the next big challenge.

“How much of a marketers overall pie are they going and actually spending now, how much do they actual control?

“We weren’t at the gate without this.”

For Gai Le Roy, director of research at IAB Australia, the new data provides more insight into mobile.

“If we are looking at audiences across sites, desktop audiences day by day are fairly stable but all the fluctuation comes in with mobile.

“The mobile audience definitely does skew slightly younger, but its not solely young, it’s really spread across the ages.

IAB’s Le Roy reveals some of the key findings in digital content ratings

“It’s really important to remember it’s not just a youth marketing strategy.”

She said audiences sizes for news category websites received almost double the audience through mobile than desktop.

“Having this new data, we are now able to see what percentage is being viewed on mobile devices, which brings up consumption of adults to over 25 hours per month on digital video eith 38% of that consumption on smart phones.”

Le Roy said the first results were mainly what brands and publishers “have instinctively known,” such as higher uplifts in audience for youth brands once off-platform data is factored in.

Vijay Solanki, IAB’s CEO said the launch was the “beginning”, describing the new digital measurement as a “game changer”.

Solanki (pictured at Mumbrella360) said Australia leads the way in digital measurement

“It’s good for publishers and gives more precision to advertisers. It also helps create more transparency and more confidence in digital.”

Media Federation Australia, Nine, Seven, and have welcomed the new ratings.

Sophie Madden, CEO of CFA said agency members were eager to participate.

Nine’s chief digital and marketing officer Alex Parsons said the launch represented an “important milestone” in the Australian digital space.

“With more demographic and visitation data, digital publishers will be more empowered than ever to better provide marketers and their agencies the data they require to make more informed choices about where they invest.”

Clive Dickens, Seven West Media’s chief digital officer, added: “Daily data is a game changer, and we are very much looking forward to seeing the inclusion of ​Seven West Media’s video in the coming period to add further independent measurement of our digital assets.”

Yahoo7 CEO, Ed Harrison said the industry should celebrate the fact Australia is on the forefront of global audience measurement, while’s commercial managing director, Anthony Saines said the new measurement was a “great innovation” for the buy and sell side.

“So much of our traffic is now generated from non-desktop sources, it’s crucial that we get improved optics into the size and behaviour of this audience. DCR will give us this holistic view,” Saines said.

Monique Perry, head of Nielsen’s Media Industry Group concluded: “We have this incredible heritage of digital being a team sport in this market and publishers being prepared to implement our STK or our tag.

“It’s really that rich history of partnership that enables us to roll out digital content ratings across video, audio and text in this market, with greater coverage.”


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