NEWS15 October 2009

UKOM promises to open up the web for brands


UK— Clients of the forthcoming industry-agreed online planning system for the UK said yesterday that it will open up the web for brand advertising, at a launch event held by the UK Online Measurement Company.

Matt Simpson, head of digital at the OMD Group, said: “We’ve answered the question of how you use online for direct response but we haven’t answered the question of how you use it for brand advertising…We miss out in online because we can’t show simple things like reach. It’s an absolutely positive move for our channel and it should open up a lot more investment in online.”

UKOM replaced the Joint Industry Committee for Internet Measurement (Jicims) after backers decided that funding a full JIC setup at a cost of up to £5m a year was too expensive. It hopes that its Audience Planning System (APS), developed in partnership with Nielsen, will be accepted as the currency for buying and selling online advertising.

Ian Armstrong, manager of customer communications at Honda, said: “The significance of something like this for me is it allows me as a brand owner to raise my game internally in terms of investment decisions… We can create a plan now that is much more robust and based on some sound principles. It’s a genuine milestone for our industry.”

Douglas McArthur (pictured), whose appointment as chair of UKOM was announced on Tuesday, highlighted the importance of coming up with a system that is comparable to those used for TV, radio, print and outdoor. “What advertisers are really looking for is integration between channels,” he said. “That’s very difficult if the planning currency you have for analogue is different to the one you have for digital.”

Data from the APS will also feed into the Touchpoints cross-media survey run by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising.

The system is being developed from Nielsen’s existing NetView panel, with various additions to be introduced in the months after its January launch, including network reach measurement form April 2010, and video measurement from mid-2010. Louise Ainsworth, managing director of Nielsen Online in EMEA, said: “There will be continuous improvements over time.” Initially the system will only measure PC usage, but Ainsworth said she expected a sample of Mac users to be added to the panel “potentially quite soon”.

Nielsen’s system is based on a panel of at least 35,000 internet users, 4,000 of which will be at work locations. The key metrics reported will be page views and time spent, and data will be provided for sites with 35,000 unique visitors or more.

The panel-based system contrasts with the ‘hybrid’ approach championed by rival ComScore, which combines ‘person-centric’ data from its panel with ‘site-centric’ data from website servers. Nielsen has said that the difficulties of combining the two types of data mean it is not practical to launch a hybrid system at this stage, but Ainsworth said in a letter to clients last week that “the system that Nielsen is putting in place for UKOM will allow for the future addition of hybrid measurement at the appropriate time, if the industry chooses to take this route”.