NEWS29 September 2009

Nielsen confirmed as UK web currency supplier

New business UK

UK— Nielsen has been confirmed as the official supplier of a web audience measurement system funded by media owners, data from which is intended to be used as currency for buying and selling online advertising.

The research agency was named as the frontrunner to manage the system in May by the UK Online Measurement Company (UKOM). Nielsen saw off competition from Gemius/Ipsos, GfK and ComScore to clinch the contract.

UKOM is pursuing a ‘partnership’ model with Nielsen, whereby tweaks are being made to its existing audience measurement system to meet the specification laid down by Jicims – the Joint Industry Committee for Internet Measurement Systems, which was the precursor to UKOM.

The UKOM Audience Planning System (APS) will be based on a panel of at least 35,000 consumers whose internet activity is tracked at home and work. Audience data will be available for sites with a minimum of 50,000 unique visitors.

Guy Phillipson, CEO of the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) and UKOM director, said: “The APS represents a genuine milestone for the online industry. For the first time, advertisers and agencies will be able to confidently plan campaigns using industry-approved audience data comparable with traditional media, such as TV and press.”

Attempts to establish a web currency date back to 2001. A request for proposal was first issued through Jicims in March last year, though the committee was dissolved in a dispute over the the proposed system’s funding requirement of £5m a year.

The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) and the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ISBA) pulled out, leaving the IAB and the Association of Online Publishers to pursue an alternative system at a fraction of the cost – between 20 and 30 per cent of the original budget, said the IAB’s Phillipson in an interview earlier this year.

UKOM continued to consult with the IPA and ISBA about the new system and its choice of supplier. Speaking today, IPA research director Lynne Robinson said she was pleased to see things “moving in the right direction”.

“Ideally we would have had a JIC but that was not possible with the funding available from the media owners,” she said.

Robinson said negotiations were ongoing regarding subscription costs for APS, with the system set to launch in January next year. She confirmed that the IPA was still planning to incorporate UKOM’s audience figures in the next release of its Touchpoints integrated planning database, which fuses all major media currencies with data from a diary study of media consumption habits.

In a statement Nielsen boasted that the UKOM appointment makes it the online currency provider of choice in 10 of the world’s largest markets, including France, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, Switzerland, China and South Africa.