Marketing Ad Spend Adtech

Cookies may be crumbling but audience measurement solutions are evolving

By Ian Darby | journalist

April 5, 2022 | 7 min read

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The huge recent growth in the digital advertising ecosystem provides a range of opportunity for advertisers. But they're also faced with measuring fragmented consumer behavior across devices, and the prospect of third-party cookies becoming obsolete in 2023.

Digital Ad Ratings can really prove the true measure of your campaign across digital media platforms

Digital Ad Ratings can really prove the true measure of your campaign across digital media platforms

Nielsen is leading the way to address these challenges, as it continues to invest in its solutions, the latest being the release of the enhanced Digital Ad Ratings powered by the Nielsen Identity System. The rollout started in February 2022 and has now been launched in eight markets from April 1, including Indonesia, Germany, Australia, Japan, Spain, India, Canada and Brazil.

To discover more, The Drum caught up with Marco Nazzari, cluster leader Mediterranean at Nielsen, to explore how the Nielsen Identity System, with over two billion device identifiers across the globe, could be a game-changer for measurement, at a time when third-party cookies are on their way out.

How does Digital Ad Ratings, powered by The Nielsen Identity System, meet the changing needs of advertisers?

The rapid evolution of the digital ecosystem and the industry’s changes in reaction to evolving consumer privacy regulations persistently pose new challenges for measurement. With the pandemic, digital campaigns became more important, alongside a real demand for measuring unique reach for advertisers.

In the last couple of years we've seen an explosion in the numbers of connected devices and multiple device usage, and for this reason, measuring de-duplicated audience reach and frequency across devices is absolutely essential to understand the real ROI of a campaign.

Digital Ad Ratings takes a de-duplicated audience across devices and can really prove the true measure of your campaign across digital media platforms, and understand your unique reach. So, it's the most important ROI for the industry.

What's new and game-changing about the solution?

Cookies, mobile advertising IDs (MAIDs) and other digital identifiers that the advertising industry has relied on for years are on their way out.

Without them, for advertisers to have an efficient digital strategy, they need to prioritize first-party data. Otherwise, it's difficult to prove the efficacy of a campaign.

That relies on a combination of cutting-edge technology, and the industry's best approach to planning. So, we're mixing our technology with the best planning that we've found in the industry. This combination of the best human and best machine approach provides data that's more accurate.

Basically, there's an identifying system measuring reach and frequency of the audience with confidence, knowing that when digital advertising is viewed it's de-duplicated across mobile and across platform, and to arrive at true, people-based metrics.

Walled gardens weren't a problem but the challenge came with the open web, and the system is the best to measure both walled gardens and the open web in a reliable way.

How can advertisers get the best from your solution, and should it interest publishers too?

It's important for advertisers to benchmark their results with their main competitors, and to integrate the results into broader cross-media analysis. So, on top of Digital Ad Ratings, we are also working on running Total Ad Ratings across campaigns in order to understand the value across media.

Digital Ad Ratings is dynamic enough to help you navigate the constantly-shifting world of content, platforms and consumer preferences. It lets you understand if you’re reaching your target audience, calibrate your strategy on the fly, and justify every move to the person pulling the budget strings.

And 21 of the top 25 global advertisers by spend are using Digital Ad Ratings to maximize their ROI, which gives us a real stamp of trust.

Publishers should be interested too, in using Digital Ad Ratings, because advertisers won't invest in a digital campaign without knowing the real ROI.

If I'm in a publisher's shoes, I need to prove to the advertisers how effective my platform is in terms of generating solid and reliable ROI. The more I can marry with a third-party, independent, measurement solution and the more I do to feed that solution, the more advantage I can get in terms of my appeal to advertisers.

The collaboration with The Trade Desk and other data providers is impressive, can you tell us more about the importance of these strategic partnerships?

We continue to enter into and expand our relationships with global and local data providers to fuel the Nielsen Identity System. These strategic relationships combine with the unique data that we have, and the machine learning that we have developed, to create leading digital advertising measurement.

Nielsen will integrate demographic data provided by global data providers such as The Trade Desk into the Nielsen ID System to provide more scope and accuracy in Nielsen’s digital ad measurement for the open internet, connecting digital impressions to demographics across millions of devices.

That's why it's so important to have a reliable partner, and it's one of our most strategic partnerships because we're scaling the Nielsen Identity System globally in key international markets, and showing our commitment to being independent and measuring in an open and reliable way.

And what have you learned from the earlier roll-out in the UK, France and Italy?

We're learning a lot. Mostly using data that we got from the launch in those three markets to better understand the differences we're seeing in new markets. And, also, we have several clients who are sitting in the markets we're set to launch in, who are already using the new Identity System in the three markets (the UK, Italy and France).

We measured over 400 campaigns from these markets to update our data, and we have learned, for instance, that the prevalence and weight of mobile devices is 92%, compared to 18% on PC, so it's absolutely something that's providing us with good insight.

And what's next for Nielsen, looking at the Nielsen ONE strategy and beyond?

The news on the Nielsen Identity System is one of the most recent exciting announcements we've shared with the industry, and is absolutely a key part of the development of our Nielsen ONE cross-media measurement strategy for the future. And, for Europe, this is a strong statement from Nielsen about the importance of the continent for us, and for measuring cross-media campaigns across the region.

With the shift that we're seeing in ad spend towards digital, creating a strong digital measurement capability is key to show how we can work truly across platforms, both on the publisher and the advertiser side.

To find out more about Nielsen's Digital Ad Ratings, click here.

Marketing Ad Spend Adtech

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Nielsen shapes the world’s media and content as a global leader in audience measurement, data and analytics. Through our understanding of people and their behaviors across all channels and platforms, we empower our clients with independent and actionable intelligence so they can connect and engage with their audiences—now and into the future. Nielsen operates around the world in more than 55 countries. Learn more at and connect with us on social media (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram).

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