Nielsen in Pact to Use Offline Data for Online Ad Targeting

A new partnership between Nielsen and consumer data firm DataLogix could help boost traditional marketers’ comfort level with online advertising. The companies are working together to allow household-level online ad targeting using Nielsen’s audience cluster PRIZM data.

Several ad networks, including Audience Science and Collective Media, are already offering the targeting capabilities to advertisers.

“It’s all about building that bridge between an address-level database and online,” explained Justin Evans, SVP strategy and marketing, The Nielsen Company. “You have to have a really rich consumer database linked to many cookies and many consumers online in order to operationalize this capability.”

In the past, PRIZM data, which organizes U.S. consumers into audience segments intended to define lifestyles, has been employed to target ads on a zip code level. According to Evans, the relationship marks the first time the PRIZM data has been used to target online ads at a household level.

The system identifies users through retail transaction related cookies and other data, said Evans, who stressed users would be targeted only using non-personally identifiable information. Although Evans said DataLogix will not combine its online data sets with the Nielsen offline data, the growing ability for advertisers to target online ads using data gathered offline has raised concern among consumer privacy advocates.

“As far as the marketer is concerned, you are only a ‘Country Squire,’ ” said Evans, alluding to one of the 66 PRIZM audience clusters. The data, available through Nielsen-owned Claritas, uses postal zip+6 codes, which do not require customer names to target single households or near-household level.

The PRIZM-based targeting is available through partner networks including BrightRoll, Collective Media, Adconion, Audience Science, Time, and United Online, owner of properties like It won’t be paired with click-stream data, but will be offered as a separate way to target online ads through the networks, Evans said.

Ad networks could use the data to determine which PRIZM segments would be most appropriate for a brand to target. Or, a marketer already using the segmentation data now would be able to target the same audience clusters on the Web.

Noted Evans, “Now there doesn’t have to be this chasm between the way they treat their customers online and the way they treat their customers offline.”

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