Digital audience upgrade: Nielsen expands mobile, adds off-platform

New-look Digital Content Ratings give publishers bigger numbers

• IAB members approve upgrades to Nielsen Digital Content Ratings system
• Monthly and weekly reporting frequencies added for participating publishers
• News.com.au monthly audience surges to 8.8m, APN News Network and perthnow make top 10 news sites

Nielsen has today switched on the latest major upgrade to Australia’s independent digital audience measurement system, Nielsen Digital Content Ratings.

This upgrade adds off-platform audiences and expands measurement coverage of mobile audiences to deliver the most precise and comprehensive independent view of total digital audiences to date.

Nielsen Digital Content Ratings will now provide both monthly and weekly reporting frequencies – in addition to the existing daily data that has been in the market for 12 months. It becomes the new IAB Australia-endorsed independent measurement for monthly digital audiences.

Digital Content Ratings monthly data directly addresses the IAB Australia and industry needs to include off-platform audiences and expand measurement of mobile audiences to provide better visibility of growth in total audiences who are consuming a publisher’s digital content.

Monique Perry, managing director, Nielsen Media, told Mediaweek this upgrade builds the mobile story in this market. “We are changing the coverage for mobile and layering on off-platform, which is predominantly off-platform.”

In a statement, Perry added the Australian media industry has a lot to be proud of. “This is an incredibly competitive market and publishers in Australia are constantly evolving their content delivery strategies to win the hearts of Australian audiences. Now with the support of the IAB and its Measurement Council, we have the sophistication and depth of digital measurement to provide the most complete view of these highly engaged digital audiences.”

Monique Perry

Perry said the changes came with challenges, but were helped by collaboration from publishers to tag their content and to test the Nielsen solutions. Off-platform providers also agreed to integrate with the measurement system.

Perry added: “This industry can be proud of its efforts and, in fact, there are more publishers tagged for Nielsen’s digital measurement in Australia than in any other global Nielsen market.”

Gai Le Roy, acting CEO, IAB Australia, commented, “Australia is the first market globally to introduce a digital audience currency that has broad monthly ratings coverage across both text and video content for on and off-platform to give digital publishers – big and small – the opportunity to report their complete audience. Today’s release is a testament to the commitment from the IAB Measurement Council and the level of local digital industry collaboration to support independent, transparent and high-quality digital measurement.”

At a briefing this week, Le Roy told Mediaweek it was a little easier to measure publishers’ websites a decade ago. “It is a little harder in 2018 with devices, apps and off-platform activity.” She added the aim of the IAB is to be able to provide members with “accurate, independent audience data that allows them to commercialise the content. At the same time we want the buy side to be able to have numbers that are truly comparable so they can make investment decisions. That is getting harder as publishers have different distribution strategies.”

Alex Smith, Nielsen’s APAC digital product lead, explained some of changes: “Digital Content Ratings now measure online Australians across text, video and audio content, consumed on or off-platform, de-duplicated across all devices. Throughout 2018 we have released coverage upgrades to Digital Content Ratings to enable publishers to layer in audiences consuming their content off-platform. We launched in 2017 with Facebook instant articles available, we added Google AMP in April 2018 and Facebook Video crediting in May 2018. This means when publishers opt in for Nielsen tags, we can now measure these audiences and add them back to the publishers’ overall total unique audience numbers.”

Perry continued: “Launching monthly Digital Content Ratings data is not the final destination – we still have work to do in building out the respondent level data for this coverage upgrade. We have a commitment to our partners to ensure the endorsed digital currency can live in other critical currency datasets like emma and Consumer & Media View. We are proud of this solution for its ability to pivot faster. If a publisher can light up its content with our tags, then we can adapt faster to accurately and independently measure its audience. We are effectively building the best possible measurement coverage together.”

A first look at the new data

The Digital Content Ratings monthly numbers are predominantly higher than Digital Ratings (Monthly), largely driven by increases in measurement of smartphone audiences. The smartphone audience increases are due to the inclusion of off-platform content, in-app browsing behaviour and measuring under-18yos on smartphone devices.

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