NEWS9 October 2009

Nielsen defends its ‘pure panel’ approach to UK web currency


UK— Nielsen Online has defended the panel-based methodology it intends to use to supply the UK’s currency web measurement system, after rival ComScore proposed a ‘hybrid’ approach, combining panel and server data.

Nielsen was confirmed last week as the official supplier to the UK Online Measurement Company (UKOM), the successor of the joint industry committee for internet measurement.

A few days later ComScore, which lost out on the UKOM contract, revealed it had submitted a proposal for its ‘person-centric’ hybrid system to be recognised by industry auditor ABCe.

In a letter to clients today, Louise Ainsworth, managing director of Nielsen’s online division, said the decision to use a ‘pure panel’ methodology was taken “because of its simplicity and ease of measurement on many sites”.

Nielsen has been looking at hybrid methodologies and the issue of cookie deletion for some years, Ainsworth said, and conducted a major trial based on a hybrid system in 2006 with Italian media industry body Audiweb. But she highlighted the difficulties of using server-side data due to factors including cookie deletion, internet usage away from home, adjustments to panel audience numbers, and sheer complexity.

However, she added that the system Nielsen is putting in place for UKOM “will allow for the future addition of hybrid measurement at the appropriate time”.

ComScore has argued consistently that a hybrid approach is the only way to “count people, not computers”, and has publicly criticised methodologies used by rivals.

Ainsworth quoted Nigel Jacklin, technical consultant to UKOM, saying: “There were two components in our design of the UKOM system – the decision to go with a ‘pure panel’ and the choice of Nielsen to supply that panel. In going for a pure panel we favoured a fully independent approach over one which might require integration of site-centric data into a user-centric output. In choosing Nielsen we favoured an existing well designed panel with sophisticated quality procedures.”

Nielsen’s system is set to be launched in January 2010, and UKOM hopes it will become the ‘currency’ for buying and selling online advertising in the UK.