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Nielsen Ratings Tool Designed to Compare TV, Web

Can metrics firm finally nail down Web standard?
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Measurement company Nielsen has long offered the industry standard for TV ratings, but can it do the same for the Web?

Later this month, Nielsen will release a new service that measures online ad campaigns in a way that’s similar to how branded ad campaigns are measured on television. Online Campaign Ratings, which rolls out Aug. 15, uses demographic data from Facebook and other publishers and technology from Nielsen to provide advertisers with a TV-style gross ratings point metric that considers reach, frequency, age, and gender.

“Branded advertisers are now, more than ever, demanding a metric online that is credible and that is comparable to other media,” says Steve Hasker, president of media products for Nielsen. “This is a drumbeat that’s been coming for awhile, but now it’s more than a drumbeat.” This isn’t Nielsen’s first foray into Web analytics, but Hasker said it breaks new ground in giving advertisers accurate comparisons between TV and the Web.

Participating advertisers attach a JavaScript pixel tag to their online campaigns. When the ads are served, the tag allows Nielsen to count the impressions and Facebook (and other publishers) to match the viewers with their demographic data. That data is anonymously aggregated and reported to Nielsen, which then uses proprietary technology to calibrate the data for its GRP.

“I think it’ll certainly increase confidence in brand advertisers in the Web,” Hasker says, and then adds, “[It will] elevate the Web to be on the same footing as TV, and marketers will increasingly start to look at them and see how they work together.”