Nielsen Backs Ad-ID Standard for Tracking Digital Ads

  |  February 10, 2011   |  Comments

ANA CEO says interactive ad industry must move beyond page views and click-through rates.

A system to code, track, and measure digital ads got a big boost from the Nielsen Co. and several advertising trade associations.

Association of National Advertisers CEO Bob Liodice said today that Nielsen will incorporate the so-called Ad-ID code in its upcoming watermarking technology for digital assets. The Ad-ID, created in 2003, is managed by the ANA and the American Association of Advertising Agencies; the watermark technology is under development.

"We need to get everyone on the same page so media measurement companies can start working off the same information," Liodice said during the ANA's TV & Everything Video Forum attended by more than 600 industry executives.

Improving the measurement of digital media and advertising is an ANA priority. "Measurement on digital platforms is extremely confusing and contradictory," he said. Case in point: The New York Times is identified as the top news and information website by comScore, but is ranked number 13 by Nielsen.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau, Advanced Media Workflow Association, and Association of Independent Commercial Producers also support the Ad-ID system, according to Harold Geller, managing director, Ad-ID.

Seven hundred advertisers are using the code, up from under 100 four years ago, Geller said. "It's the equivalent of a UPC code," he said.

The code is used mostly in TV advertising, but Geller said there will be a push to expand adoption to online video ads and display advertising.

Making ad operations more efficient has been a long-time issue for ad agencies, publishers, and advertisers.

At the ANA forum, Liodice outlined other initiatives underway that should help advertisers:

  • Nielsen's watermark, which will be encoded in commercials, potentially clearing the way to report ratings for brand specific advertisements. While Nielsen measures TV viewing behavior, adopting a similar system for brand advertisements has apparently been too costly to adopt. Nielsen's watermark technology will cost less than $50 per commercial, according to Liodice.
  • The ANA, IAB, and the 4A's have formed a task force to evaluate measurement approaches. Liodice insisted measurement must move beyond page views, time spent on page, and click-through rates.
  • ANA is working with Canoe Ventures, an initiative organized by cable operators, to develop a panel of U.S. homes to get feedback on the effectiveness of interactive advertising.

Nielsen spokesman Gary Holmes said in a follow-up e-mail: "Per our policy we won’t be able to discuss any cost issues, but I can say that Nielsen is as excited as any about the prospect of what TV commercial ratings might bring to the industry. As is our longstanding practice, we will support what the industry decides to use as a basis for the buying and selling of TV advertising." He did not say whether the watermark technology could be used for online advertising.

Still, measurement approaches continue to evolve. Just this week, MediaMind, formerly known as Eyeblaster, said the Media Rating Council accredited its ad server for unique impressions and average frequency metrics.

When asked if MediaMind would include the Ad-ID code, MediaMind Global Marketing VP Amit Rahav said: "We are closely watching the Ad-ID initiative with a view to offer our tracking and measurement services, including our IAB/MRC accredited algorithms, to all Ad-ID enabled assets."

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anna Maria Virzi

Anna Maria Virzi, ClickZ's executive editor from 2007 until 2012, covered Internet business and technology since 1996. She was on the launch team for Ziff Davis Media's Baseline and also worked at Forbes.com, Web Week, Internet World, and the Connecticut Post.

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