In a first for Africa, marketing research company Nielsen has announced the launch of Nielsen Digital Ad Ratings (DAR) in SA. The digital advertising measurement tool provides gross rating points (GRPs) – a measure of advertising impact – for individual campaigns’ digital audiences across smartphones, tablets and computers. This will allow advertisers, media houses and publishers to establish maximum reach across all digital campaigns.

Richard Lord, business unit manager of the MediaShop, says that, in principle, the introduction of Nielsen’s DAR will be a good thing – particularly in terms of breaking digital into a currency that everyone involved in media will understand. This will make digital more accessible and understandable to all industry players, and this, in turn, will drive digital spend.

The big take-out: Nielsen’s Digital Ad Ratings has launched in SA, providing agencies and advertisers with an independent metric for digital measurement. The MediaShop’s Richard Lord says it’s a great idea in principle, but its usefulness will need to be proved.    

However, Lord says the usefulness of DAR will depend on how it works. “Measuring clicks, leads or impressions is unlikely to change, so what DAR is actually doing is bringing a new currency or method of measurement to the table,” he says, adding that it won’t replace the metrics that already exist. He says the usefulness of the new metrics will also be campaign dependent. For example, a performance-based campaign, such as one that tries to get consumers to book seats on a certain airline, may not require GRP measurement. “These campaigns are optimised and measured on conversions – knowing how many people that campaign reached is not really relevant here,” he explains.

He points out that it’s important to consider the platforms on which GRPs are measured. For example, if only SA websites are measured, then a chunk of data will be missing from international websites or search engines such as Google – not to mention social media platforms such as Facebook. “In order for DAR is be truly effective as a tool of measurement, it must be all-encompassing and cover an advertiser’s entire digital buy, as opposed to only a portion, or just one or two platforms,” Lord says.

For Nielsen, the SA launch of DAR is the start of a new era of audience-based advertising metrics. Nielsen SA Watch head Terry Murphy says: “DAR provides transparent, actionable audience measurement for digital platforms. Audience measurement has thus far been limited to impressions served or unique audience and demographics from panels which do not necessarily represent the digital landscape.”

Murphy explains that the tool will allow advertisers to measure their campaigns from a neutral standpoint, regardless of their size or where they are placed, bringing standardisation and accountability that will help agencies and advertisers accurately understand their return in investment for every rand they spend online. One of DAR’s biggest strengths is that it provides an independent measurement currency for the industry, which could create more transparency, decrease fraud and develop more accurate targeting of audiences.

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