Would you book adverts on a site where only 15 percent of people who saw them were your target audience? It's a question a lot of ad buyers in the UK may soon be asking themselves if they buy into a new metrics system launched by Nielsen.
Nielsen today launches its TV ratings-style Online Campaign Ratings service in the UK, having launched it in the US in July last year. OCR measures the effectiveness of campaigns in reaching target audiences and in tests found that less than half of all ad impressions in the UK miss their target audience, based on tests on gender and age-based targeting.
OCR uses data from partners - currently just Facebook Loading... in the UK - and uses its own panels to iron out any bias in the results. Nielsen then provides gross ratings points (GRPs), a metric much used in TV, to show how effective an ad is in reaching its target.
-- What is GRP? It's an old TV metric, constructed by taking the reach of an ad (the percentage of a target audience that sees an ad) and multiplying it by the number of times someone sees it.
Using this for online means digital publishers can speak to TV-loving advertisers in a language they understand.
The good, the bad and the immeasurable
The results from trials in the UK suggest the OCR may be another way for advertisers to find out how ineffective their ads are:
-- Good: Nielsen says there was huge variation between sites. On some, 80 percent of ads were reaching their intended audience (though that means one in five of those seeing the ads still weren't the target audience).
-- Bad: In the trials, some sites performed abysmally, with only 15 percent of ads reaching their intended audience, meaning on some sites advertisers are wasting 85 percent of their ad spend serving ads to people they don't want to reach.
Nielsen's system is designed to allow advertisers to tweak campaigns as they happen. So if a site isn't hitting the right demographic, advertisers will pull their ads and put them somewhere better.
In the US, Nielsen claims it is allowing advertisers to save 11 percent of their budget, or improve campaign delivery by an average 14 percent.
Of course, OCR only shows who the ads are shown to, not if they are being looked at or clikced on. It isn't a solution for banner blindness (the concept that people ignore ads, made famous by another, unrelated Nielsen).
Also, as pointed out in this critique, OCR will be more useful for targeting broad demographics based on gender and age, rather than specific target audiences such as doctors or farmers.
-- What should you do about it? But it will give advertisers another way to measure the effectiveness of a site or network of sites - and that means you have to make sure that your assessment of who your readership is matches what you are telling advertisers, or they might start spending their ad money somewhere else.
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