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Nielsen Uses TV and Web Data in New Targeting Effort

Could new program help online advertisers target TV viewers and cord cutters?
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Nielsen’s been fairly busy attempting to connect the dots between TV and online advertising. Today, the research firm is announcing Nielsen Online Audience Segments—TV Viewing, a program that’s designed to let a brand target online consumers based on their television and Web-viewing habits.

Interestingly, Jonathan Carson, Nielsen’s general manager of digital, said the program could attract “advertisers that are looking to reach consumers who don’t watch a lot of TV.”

Indeed, if brands—a Trader Joe’s or a Zappos, perhaps—want to target cord cutters with online ads, Carson said his system could suss out that audience segment. More generally though, he said, “It will enable our [online] publisher and network partners to organize their audiences according to what those individuals watched on television.”

Ad tech firms Microsoft, Adap.TV, Specific Media, Undertone and Videology are distribution partners for the Nielsen program. It uses data from TV and online panels, fashioning consumer clusters of same/similar media habits.

“Advertisers can identify those individuals...and target specifically to them,” Carson said.

Scott Ferber, CEO of Videology, said Nielsen’s program could be used to help buy integrated campaigns. "Whether this data is used to increase the impact of an existing television campaign or to extend reach by targeting light television users who might not otherwise be exposed to a campaign, the end result is the same—breaking down the silos between consumers’ viewing experiences," he said in a statement. "Data that allows advertisers to focus on the consumer, rather than on the device, will lead to a more holistic assessment of campaign results and, ultimately, to a truer assessment of ROI."

Whether brands and agencies take to Nielsen's latest audience targeting program remains to be seen. The digital industry sorely needs a product that builds confidence among traditional marketers, especially in this touch-and-go economy.

Meanwhile, Nielsen has been dogged in its pursuit to help traditional marketers make sense of digital advertising.

Nearly one year ago, the New York-based company launched its online campaign ratings (OCR) system, which aims to provide reach, frequency and gross rating point (GRP) metrics for Internet advertising. In April, it rolled out a cross-platform campaign measurement service that combines information from Nielsen’s OCR product and its television audience measurement system. And one month ago, it purchased Vizu to strengthen the media researcher’s ad measurement and optimization technology.