What Nielsen Taught Us: We Need Multiple Metrics for Identity and Campaign Measurement

For decades, Nielsen was the gold standard that advertisers trusted. Its brand name was — and largely still is — synonymous with linear television campaign measurement and planning.

Then in September 2021, something remarkable happened. The Media Rating Council, which evaluates measurement tools to ensure figure accuracy and reliability for the advertising community, revoked its third-party accreditation of Nielsen’s national and local TV measurement services.

Nielsen has since launched Nielsen ONE for campaign measurement across linear and connected TV, as well as desktop and mobile. However, the MRC suspension still stands.

It’s easy to see the appeal of wanting to consolidate around one solution. As the digital advertising industry rapidly evolves, pharma marketers continue to face the challenge of accurate, efficient audience identification and measurement. But as tempting as a one-size-fits-all approach may sound, the example of Nielsen is a cautionary tale.

The End of One-Size-Fits-All Campaign Measurement

There’s more content than ever before – and more ways to read, view, and engage with it. Unfortunately for pharma advertisers, it’s hard to develop a unified view of how frequently and effectively they’re reaching their healthcare provider and patient audiences across channels. Identity resolution and campaign measurement are made even more difficult with the ongoing deprecation of third-party cookies.

In the new, fragmented media landscape, it’s unlikely that any one measurement currency or measurement platform will become as closely linked with ad planning as Nielsen’s once was. Indeed, Fox, NBCUniversal, Paramount, TelevisaUnited, Warner Bros. Discovery, OpenAP, and the Video Advertising Bureau have recently formed the Joint Industry Committee, working to enable multiple currencies and establish cross-platform campaign measurement solutions for streaming video. The JIC will announce its measurement certification standards in March with plans to have solutions in place before the 2024 Upfronts.

This variety is ultimately a good thing. With more companies competing to deliver alternatives for identity and campaign measurement, there’s more room for innovation to meet unique industry or business needs, leveraging technologies like identity graphs and data clean rooms.

In healthcare, for example, business outcomes or pharmaceutical sales are directly tied to patient outcomes. Many medications have to be prescribed by a licensed provider, which is why pharma ads often ask patients to “talk with your doctor.” Being able to link ad exposure to pharmacy script performance is uniquely powerful, and it requires specialized measurement tools that can report performance leveraging claims data in a privacy-safe way.

What You Need in a Measurement Solution

In today’s highly fragmented media landscape, with new technology and viewing patterns constantly emerging, pharma advertisers should test innovative, new alternatives for identity and campaign measurement.

What should advertisers look for when evaluating these solutions? Here are four considerations:

  • The methodology and statistical measures should be fully transparent to permit comparison and validation. Measurement based on an incomplete dataset hurts an analytics team’s ability to provide meaningful insights.
  • Consider the quality of the data, how it is sourced, and if it accurately represents the population being studied.
  • Keep in mind that the speed at which measurement data is refreshed is important, given that it’s hard to manage agile campaigns when conversion analysis takes weeks or months. Faster data refresh enables more real-time decision-making.
  • Visualization of results is crucial. When results and visualizations are easy to share, they’re more actionable, at any level of the organization.

In summary, in today’s rapidly evolving media landscape, many firms are developing identity and campaign measurement solutions. The industry is moving away from having a single TV measurement body. Instead, there will be many.

By now, networks and advertisers are more familiar with these alternatives. A number of NBCUniversal clients are using viewing data from iSpot.tv as currency for some of their upfront cross-platform buys. As other campaign measurement solutions become more tried and true, we’ll likely see explosive growth in adoption in the coming years.

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