Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings


The idea of ratings for online campaigns has been talked about for years.  Some people, especially media buyers who work for brand advertisers have practically been demanding it.  But how would it work?  Panels, surveys, census?  What would be the best methodology for such measurement and who is in the best position to do the job?

According to my friends at Nielsen Media Research, they are — and they wanted to prove it to me. So, a few weeks ago, we hooked the Nielson Online Campaign Ratings system into a standard ad unit that runs on all of the pages of and got an up close and personal view of our audience.

As it turns out, people who saw the ad over-index male, are over 25, and are overwhelmingly college educated.  The reports were interesting and informative.  Not surprisingly, the estimated number of ads served did not match our logs (or any other analytics program we run).  But, even though we could not get the numbers to line up, the demographics are in-sync with other tools we used concurrently and tools we have used in the past, as were the KPIs.

While it’s early days for this tools set, Nielsen may be on to something great.  Here’s what they have to say on the subject:

Marketers, especially brand advertisers, need a simple and consistent way to measure the combined reach of TV and the web to determine marketing program ROI in conjunction with other cross‐platform effectiveness metrics.

Nielsen Online Campaign ratings launched in August 2011 to answer the online industry’s need for creating transparency and accountability in audience delivery in the same way that television and other media allow. The service provides overnight audience reach, frequency and Gross Rating Points (GRPs) for Internet display and video advertising.

Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings combines aggregated, anonymous, privacy‐protected demographic information from participating online data providers, including Facebook, with Nielsen’s Cross‐Platform Homes panel data.

Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings is part of the Nielsen Campaign Ratings suite, which provides a full range of premiere advertising audience measurement. Nielsen’s full suite of solutions also includes Nielsen Cross‐Platform Campaign Ratings, which integrates media planning and measurement across television and the Internet to provide clients with total and overlapped reach and frequency of their marketing campaigns, and a Breakthrough metric for web campaigns for a more complete view of campaign performance, including how much of the total audience actually recalled the ad.

Nielsen goes on to say that the system combines Facebook and Nielsen panel data to report overnight age, gender, and DMA daily.  Which is a very interesting way to approach the problem.  It provides unduplicated measures of people –not cookies –by campaign and site/network.  Also a good attribute.  And, the system offers two other important features – it enables Cross‐Platform Ratings (TV + Web) and it is the only such system accredited by the MRC.

Who is using the system?  According to a spokesperson, AOL announced it would leverage Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings to offer TV‐Like GRP guarantees for online video.   And, back in March, GroupM and Nielsen announced a pioneering collaboration to create Cross‐Platform Campaign Ratings, a new measurement service that integrates media planning and measurement across television and the Internet.

All in, I’d say this is a great first step toward real ratings for online advertising campaigns.  If you’re in the business of buying or selling online campaigns, it’s definitely worth a look.

About Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is the Professor of Advanced Media in Residence at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and CEO of The Palmer Group, a consulting practice that helps Fortune 500 companies with technology, media and marketing. Named LinkedIn’s “Top Voice in Technology,” he covers tech and business for Good Day New York, is a regular commentator on CNN and writes a popular daily business blog. He's a bestselling author, and the creator of the popular, free online course, Generative AI for Execs. Follow @shellypalmer or visit



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