Revenue Science to Certify Audience Quality

Updated: Behavioral targeting provider Revenue Science today launched a new Audience Quality Certification service based on Nielsen//NetRatings data.

Through the partnership, Revenue Science will provide segment-level audience composition metrics gathered from the Nielsen//NetRatings MegaPanel, which measures the online behavior of several hundred thousand individuals across the Web. Revenue Science will collect metrics monthly for all its behavioral segments.

“This makes it easier for advertisers to buy and understand audience value. People turn to Nielsen//NetRatings in media planning offline and online to understand what audience they get when they do a tactical buy,” said Omar Tawakol, SVP marketing at Revenue Science. “They’re going to get a third-party, scientific metric that lets them value an audience on a specific site, but more importantly, they can plan campaigns across multiple sites with an apples-to-apples comparison.”

The service will provide audience composition metrics comprised of Web behavior and demographics. Web-wide behavior includes high-level categorization, such as “Finance” or “Search Engine,” and at a more detailed level, such as “Finance: Credit Card” or “Travel: Airlines.” Demographic metrics include standard Nielsen//NetRatings household data including income, household size, ethnicity, and number of employed household members.

Certifying audience segments with Nielsen//NetRatings metrics will enable advertisers to compare two similarly-named and similarly-created segments from different sites, making it easier to buy audience segments consistently across multiple publishers. It’s intended to also benchmark the composition of those audiences against the Web-wide audience and run-of-site inventory.

Publishers Tawakol has spoken with love the idea, he claims. “They’re in the business of building an audience, and anything that commoditizes the audience is bad for them. This way, they play to their strengths. They find their areas of high composition and they’re able to defend them.”

Having a trusted measurement of quality is good for publishers, and allows them to prove the superior quality of their audience, according to Randy Kilgore, VP of advertising for the Wall Street Journal Online.

“Previously, sites could claim to deliver audience segments that were the same or similar to ours, and buyers lacked a standard and trusted means of making comparisons,” Kilgore said. “Behaviorally targeted advertising just got easier to buy.”

Because Nielsen//NetRatings data are broadly accepted, publishers will be able to more easily demonstrate the value of defined audience segments. Certification will also help bridge the gap between publishers and advertisers. Advertisers currently describe their targets with a composition definition, such as “people in-market for a car in the next three months.” Publishers tend describe audiences by site behavior, e.g. “people who clicked on a section in the past month.”

The new service can correlate the two definitions, enabling publishers and advertisers to talk about the same group.

“One of our focuses as a company is to make it very clear what the quality of an audience is, and allow advertisers to make trade-offs between quality and reach,” Tawakol said.

Rival behavioral marketing firm Tacoda recently addressed the standardization issue from another angle with its proposal for a basic set of standardized behavioral audience segments, which it calls Tacoda Targets.

While Tawakol believes common terminology is good; it doesn’t solve the other half of the problem, which is setting a standard for valuing segments differently.

“We think it’s great to be transparent about the input. But it’s all about the output — what audience did I actually get, in the language of the advertiser? To do that in a way that creates a common currency, like composition, allows an advertiser to say they what they are looking for,” Tawakol said.

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