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Inside Nielsen's GRP-Like Online Ratings: Facebook Pings

  |  August 12, 2011   |  Comments

Measurement service will pull age and gender data from Facebook.

After nearly a year of talk and speculation, Nielsen will launch its new Gross Ratings Point-style ratings system on Monday. Marketers using Nielsen's new Online Campaign Rating service will be able to know - based on Facebook data - the age and gender of up to 50 percent of the people seeing their web ads, a Nielsen representative told ClickZ News.

Internet users with a Facebook cookie on their browser will become part of aggregated demos in campaign performance reports produced by Nielsen's service. When they visit publisher sites, the ad impressions will ping Facebook's servers. Those pings will result in aggregated and anonymous age and gender summaries send to Nielsen at a campaign-level.

The goal is to help marketers get a better understanding of the audiences their ads are actually reaching. According to a blog post on the Nielsen site in June, a trial of the system showed "in a campaign in which a CPG advertiser intended to reach females 18-34 for a personal care product, 55% of the impressions were served to men."

Nielsen's ad clients will attach a pixel-based tag on their ads to enable the pings, which will occur even if the viewer does not have a Facebook account. Impressions of non-Facebook users will not be part of the Nielsen ad performance rating.

The final GRP-style number given to Nielsen's advertiser clients will also crunch data from the research company's TV and online consumer behavior panel. The different data-points would be weighted in a system of "calibrated factors," according to the company source.

The Online Campaign Rating service is designed to address the challenges publishers and platforms have experienced in getting brand advertisers to spend more online. And even though the system doesn't identify online viewers, it's not hard to imagine the Nielsen-Facebook collaboration drawing the ire of consumer privacy hawks. At the same time, the Nielsen source contended both companies believed privacy to be the "single most important element" in the project.

Meanwhile, comScore is also attempting to connect Facebook to brand advertising. According to "The Power of Like: How Brands Reach and Influence Fans Through Social Media Marketing" study, conducted in May by comScore in conjunction with Facebook, for every fan of a top 100 brand, an additional 34 friends of fans can be reached through an exposure to the fan, or liker.

Update: The story originally reported that Facebook pings result in age and gender data being sent to Nielsen's system via a non-personably identifiable user ID. However, according to Nielsen, there is no user ID sent between Nielsen and Facebook. The Facebook pings result in aggregated and anonymous age and gender summaries send to Nielsen at a campaign-level.

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Christopher Heine

Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.

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