IAB with Nielsen are working towards a new audience measurement system as the age of third party cookies – and the consumer surveillance that attended technology draws to a close.

The parties say they are working with advertisers, agencies, and media companies to develop the standards and that the updates will see digital audience measurement continue to evolve in the changing landscape, making steps towards cross-media measurement that everyone seeks.

The new approach, which they say will emerge in early 2021, will remain a hybrid people-based measurement system that combines the best of a media quality panel and detailed census data from a wide range of publishers.  The currency will continue to be inclusive and report on all digital properties regardless of their involvement with the IAB, to provide the industry with comparable data on over 6,500 media organisations, brands, and channels each month.

The updated currency will be developed with the oversight of the digital industry and the IAB Measurement Council, with 13 media owners, agency, and MFA representation. The IAB Measurement Council will review Nielsen’s new methodology and preview data to ensure it meets the high standards necessary for a media currency and continued industry endorsement.

Along with providing the industry with an updated methodology for Digital Content Ratings data across text and video on browsers and apps across desktop/laptop, smartphones and tablets, Nielsen will continue to build on the body of work already commenced to launch text and video planning data suitable for fusion with other media data .

Methodology adjustments will maintain a privacy by design approach for measurement and be ready for limited reliance on 3rd party datasets due to stricter privacy laws and cookie degradation.   Privacy compliant measurement panels will become increasingly important in delivering people-based audience data for advertising planning and campaign performance measurement across the whole market.

Natalie Stanbury, Director of Research at IAB commented: “Today, browsers and governments are reacting to consumer demands for greater privacy protection and so the cookie, much relied on for measurement, will soon disappear.  Adjustment is vital to remain compliant with changes in privacy regulations and be sustainable in the “cookie-less” future.”

A decade of measurement

For nearly 10 years the IAB has endorsed a sole and exclusive provider for the measurement of digital audience content consumption. This sole and exclusive provider status was first appointed by the IAB in 2011 at a time when the online space had been using a variety of measurement tools, making it extremely difficult for advertisers to compare and understand the value of digital audiences across media properties.

The move to an industry-supported standardised currency, provided by leading independent measurement organisation Nielsen, gave a level playing field for comparison of audience qualities and characteristics and hence greater confidence to advertisers for planning decisions on where to invest their media budgets. It also helped media owners to demonstrate the unique attributes of their properties and help commercialisation of their content.

An industry currency is as important in today’s intensely competitive advertising market as it was a decade ago. Last year the IAB conducted a ‘Future of Measurement Review’ to understand the priorities of the industry with regards to digital measurement including content ratings, ad ratings, ad verification and ad impact. The review found that advertisers and agencies are still looking for industry agreed online measurement that brings accountability for their investments and ways to evaluate opportunities and measure success consistently across all media.

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