On the consumer front, the transition to digital has been fast and furious. You barely notice when you’re switching your attention from mobile to tablet, to your television set. But in the backend, the advertising community, while expert at implementing cross-screen campaigns, has been grappling with the tracking and reporting end of that digital transformation.
A laundry list of vulnerabilities in the digital advertising system — fraud, overexposure, delivery and bots — that previously prevented reliable tracking and effectiveness measurement was addressed when Nielsen first launched its Digital Ad Ratings (DAR) in the US in August 2011. Modelled after the widely accepted global industry standard of its own TV ratings, DAR has since been localised, iterated and launched in 28 markets.
Hong Kong is the newest to join that list — and the localised system has been stress tested and honed to precision. Before coming to Hong Kong, Nielsen has launched Digital Ad Ratings in Chinese mainland in May 2015, and teamed up with Tencent and Sina Weibo as the product’s data provider. Powered by the largest user databases and the highest quality panel in the mainland, Nielsen Digital Ad Ratings is setting a new industry standard for digital audience measurement in that market.
“Hong Kong has long awaited an audience-based digital currency to give advertisers more confidence to continue increasing their digital budgets,” said Angel Young, managing director of Nielsen Hong Kong and Macau. “Market accountability and comparability is crucial for Hong Kong marketers as it will help them understand the true audience of their digital campaigns across devices and platforms.”
Marketers face similar questions globally: Did my ad reach the target that I paid for? Does the mobile component of my campaign give me incremental reach, or are they the same consumers? How does digital spend add value in the context of my overall spend?
These are questions, said Young, that have been around since the invention of digital advertising. And while there are answers, some are from stakeholders who have skin in the game — that is to say, conflicts of interests which compromise their trustworthiness and neutral reporting.
DAR benefits at a glance
A total digital view
Total Ad Ratings( TV plus digital)
Advertisers need a third party player which can determine whether data and results provided by the agency and ad networks is accurate and precise. This would provide a common platform by which all advertising is measured.
“In the real world, advertising is for a target audience,” Young said. “So it is important to have reliable third-party measurement that can provide a de-duplicated audience base measurement to give advertisers a clearer picture on how their media is spent and where and how their ad is exposed.”
With accreditation from the Media Rating Council, a holistic digital ROI that offers “apple-to-apple” comparisons of media consumption, across all platforms is not just possible, it’s reliable, too. It offers media buyers and sellers an unparalleled level of granularity when it comes to digital audience measurement, understand and quantify the audience their ads are reaching, with the ability to optimise campaigns in real time — a benefit which arose from the iterations of the DAR product.
Making Total Ad Ratings a reality
“Digital Ad Ratings is just a start. Our goal is to provide both programme and commercial ratings across all screens, covering in- and outside-of-home,” said Young. “Nielsen’s Total Ad Ratings offering is unique in three different ways: 5M panel size through unique big data source, one single source panel and it is ready to launch.”
That is to say, the Nielsen solution isn’t a grandiose pie-in-the-sky solution — it’s a functional model that is currently in use and proven successful with a client list ready to testify to its results.
Jerry Weng, head of Xaxis Taiwan, spoke positively of DAR when it launched there. “We’ve taken this language and standardised it for the first time,” he said. “DAR can calculate GRP value — which is exactly the same index used for traditional TV. Clients can easily judge whether their digital investments have reached their expectations.”
The value of shared measurement across countries — Hong Kong is the 29th market — is already a benefit for the brands seeking ways to benchmark their performance internally. And many marketers have their sights on what that means for the future. Although this incorporates online media now, it can soon grow to include all media.