Nielsen just released a pair of research reports, “Reaching the Right Audiences Online: Early Findings from Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings,” and “Beyond Clicks and Impressions: Examining the Relationship Between Online Advertising and Brand Building,” that bring to light several emergent trends:
• While some websites perform well in reaching a target audience, nearly all campaigns reach a large number of consumers not valuable to the brand advertiser
• Advertisers wanting a strong online brand presence must move beyond traditional web metrics to verify if their money is paying off
• Online delivers audiences more effectively than some popular TV shows.
• Click-through rate is not the right metric to measure brand impact – as virtually no relationship exists between clicks and brand metrics or offline sales
• Brand metrics for online campaigns can predict offline sales impact.
In the “Reaching the Right Audiences Online: Early Findings from Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings,” Nielsen tracked a campaign for a beauty care brand striving to better its image among women 18-34.
The advertiser ran 213 million impressions across 14 websites and ad networks for six weeks. Analysis show that while 33% of impressions reached the desired audience (W 18-34), 40% of the impressions were served to men.
The research scanned dozens of campaigns across hundreds of websites and found that “the web consistently delivers millions of impressions — if not tens of millions — to the wrong people.”
The report also concludes that online media "delivers audiences more effectively than some popular TV shows," as the company pushes for Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings (NOCR) as the “currency” of the online ad business as the world moves from offline media – a dominant position long-held by Nielsen.
"The web does in fact deliver the audience more efficiently than a program like 'American Idol 'whose broad audience virtually guarantees delivery outside of the intended group."
While this data will raise ire amongst television-based clients, it’s grist for the mill for online-centrics in moving ad market share away from the TV landscape.
The second report, Beyond Clicks and Impressions: Examining the Relationship Between Online Advertising and Brand Building, shows that while there is growing evidence that brand metrics showing attitudinal response to online campaigns can help offline sales projections, there is little-to-no relationship between click-through rates and offline sales or brand opinion.
On average, online ads successfully influence brand engagement and opinion most strongly for ad recall and message association, but degree of positive brand impact primarily depends on the strength of the actual ad.
Campaigns for which consumers reported increased purchase intent after viewing an online ad also resulted in a spike in offline product sales and those with flat purchase intent showed no measurable change in sales.
Additionally, click-through rate for a given campaign did not show any connection to sales lift and no measure of consumer resonance.
As advertisers mull their digital strategies and budget allocations, specifically how well their brand-specific online ads are performing, Nielsen’s Online Brand research shows that “consumers do remember exposure to an online ad campaign,” and that “online ads can also succeed in conveying a brand’s intended message.”
Research also reveals that “online ads often increase overall awareness for the advertised brand,” particularly important in driving new product success.