Nielsen’s Online Campaign Ratings Track Facebook User Demographics Across the Web

By Josh Constine Comment

This week, Nielsen plans to launch its new “Online Campaign Ratings” system that tracks ad performance and audience demographics thanks to data from a partnership with Facebook. It will allow advertisers to pay for similar insights into their web campaigns as Nielsen provides for their television commercials, such as reach, frequency, and gross rating points, as well as anonymized biographical data such as age, gender, and location.

Reliable, granular, third-party campaign measurement could help advertisers improve ad targeting and gain the confidence about the impact of their ads necessary to shift spend online and away from television. The data could convince advertisers to choose Facebook because they can actually target based on this same audience demographic data.

Some users may be alarmed about being tracked through their Facebook data, but advertisers are only see the same data through OCR as they see when buying ads on Facebook, and GigaOm reports that users will be able to opt out.

Here’s how Nielsen’s Online Campaign Ratings system works:

  1. Advertisers tag their ad with a Nielsen code snippet
  2. Facebook records when logged in users view tagged ads on or other sites
  3. Nielsen tracks where an ad is being seen and how often
  4. Facebook’s anonymized, aggregate audience demographic data is combined with Nielsen’s impression data
  5. Advertisers receive reports within days about the performance of their ad campaign

Niether Nielsen or Facebook gain access to all the data at any point, protecting the privacy of those tracked. Users don’t volunteer or get paid for being tracked the way they do for contributing to Nielsen TV ratings, but they don’t have to take any action, just browse normally.

Nielsen first announced plans for OCR in September. It also pulls demographic data from other media companies and publishers, and has been testing OCR since March with over 20 brands including Proctor & Gamble and Publicis Groupe S.A.’s Starcom MediaVest.

Early tests showed that OCR could track 42% of impressions of a given ad, while traditional panel sample online ad tracking methodology typically only tracked 3%. OCR was also able to determine what percentage of an ad’s impressions were reaching the target audience.

By contributing its data, Facebook is betting on the high performance of it’s own advertising product. It may hope to show Facebook Ads more frequently reach their intended targets and are correlated with better downstream conversion rates. The site would also benefit from a general reallocation of advertising spend to online display from TV.

Nielsen and Facebook had previously partnered to run Nielsen-designed polling ads on the Facebook home page. These BrandLift poll ads helped advertisers determine whether an ad campaign had increased purchase intent.