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Nielsen Closing in on Mobile Ad Measurement Service

23 Apr, 2014 By: Doug McPherson

NEW YORK – Nielsen said last week it’s launching the final technical trial before expanding its Online Campaign Ratings (OCR) service to mobile this summer.

The service reportedly offers a common measurement currency to track reach, frequency and GRPs across screens, especially for video. Online video ad firms BrightRoll and TubeMogul are taking part in the test. Both have been using OCR for the past 18 months.

Major sites such as YouTube have already adopted OCR for digital video measurement on the desktop, but mobile validation is still emerging.

Also last week, comScore, a Nielsen rival, said it was expanding its measurement product, Validated Campaign Essentials, to track ads appearing on smartphones and tablets.

Steven Perlberg, a reporter with the Wall Street Journal, said the two efforts are evidence of “how important tracking consumer activity on mobile devices is becoming to advertisers – and how measurement companies are scrambling to provide more of that information.”

comScore chief executive Serge Matta says clients have been begging for more mobile data. “You can no longer look at it just on the PC-based environment,” Matta said. comScore says the program will be “generally available” by the end of the second quarter.

Perlberg says the two measurement companies spar over whose methodology and approach is better. “While comScore has been faster to market with a mobile ad-tracker, Nielsen says it is the only provider that can offer metrics comparable to the TV ratings that are familiar to big advertisers. Each side has signed up big advertisers to use their online measurement products,” Perlberg writes.

Analysts say for Nielsen, the move to track mobile ads is part of a broader effort to expand its online measurement capabilities. The company already helps advertisers track their campaigns on laptops and PCS. But with tablet and smartphone growth, extending that service to cover mobile devices was a high priority.

To track mobile devices, Nielsen said it would take a similar approach to the way it measures computer and tablet browsers. That methodology combines its cross-platform homes panel with data from third-party providers to measure all ads, including video and display.

Besides mobile browsers, the latest test will measure in-app ads for the iOS and Android app eco-system.

Other clients, including ABC, have participated in earlier technical trials. Following completion of the mobile trial, Nielsen plans to release the expanded version of OCR in the third quarter.

Separately, Nielsen plans integrate viewing of TV shows on mobile devices into its TV ratings for the season starting in September. Some network executives have complained that Nielsen’s ratings understate their true viewership across the Web and mobile, which can hamper ad spending.

“Consumers all over the globe are moving their media consumption to tablets and smartphones,” said Megan Clarken, Nielsen’s executive vice president of global product leadership. “With that has come a real interest and shift from broadcasters to move their program content from TV and extend it across mobile devices.”

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