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Nielsen Says It Has Strategy For Cookieless Digital Identities

Nielsen announced that it plans to implement a new cookieless approach to measuring audiences and outcomes for digital advertising.

"The new system will help the company deliver deduplicated audience metrics across linear and digital as part of Nielsen One, the system Nielsen is building that is designed to make measuring all media exposure comparable across platforms," said Mainak Mazumdar, chief data officer at Nielsen.

Mainak Mazumdar Nielsen

Mainak Mazumdar (Image credit: Nielsen)

Nielsen said it’s new approach will put it in a good position to validate first-party server data with real consumer behavior, based on the Nielsen’s same panel used to estimate TV viewing.

The panel system has been under attack lately. Because of COVID, some households remained in Nielsen’s sample that should not have, resulting in Nielsen under-reporting viewing during the pandemic. The VAB, which represents the networks and distributors complained about the homes in Nielsen’s sample and the Media Rating Council confirmed that viewing as being under reported, both in Nielsen’s national ratings and its local ratings.

The VAB last week asked the Media Rating Council to suspend its accreditation of Nielsen's National Rating Service. 

The move comes as third-party cookies are being eliminated by web companies, necessitating a new way for media companies and marketers to track who is watching their ads. Nielsen said its new system should be in place by 2023, when cookies are expected to fully crumble.

Nielsen said its new approach will allow it to measure both authenticated and unauthenticated digital traffic.

Authenticated traffic--with identifiers viewed on logged in or consenting devices--will be measured using first-party data from participating clients, including hashed email address, The Trade Desks Unified ID 2.9 and select self-reported demographic labels. Nielsen said this will include walled gardens.

To measure unauthentic traffic Nielsen has developed a machine-learning technique with additional signals including time, browser, content and device information, as well as FLoC groups (people online with similar interests). The model is valued against the panel for accuracy.

Nielsen said it’s approach is designed to meet five objectives: interoperability, comparability, persistence, confidentiality and measurement-built.

“Moving to a cookie-less ecosystem and the deterioration of digital identifiers present us an opportunity to build a sustainable platform that allows both advertisers and publishers to achieve their marketing goals while keeping user privacy in the forefront,” Mazumdar told Broadcasting+Cable.

He said the new system is important because it’s about real people. “We want to make sure these people exposed to ads are real people.”

"Between Nielsen’s panel and its data partnerships brand marketers now can learn more about their customers and prospects," Mazumdar said. “The identity becomes the foundational data platform that allows us to ingest a lot of data and understand who is behind those devices.”

Last December, Nielsen unveiled its post-cookie system for ID Resolution. The company said it would begin rolling it out this year, using the methodology for its Digital Ad Ratings, Total Ad Ratings, Digital Content Ratings, Total Content Ratings, Digital in TV Ratings, Nielsen Attribution and Nielsen Campaign Lift products.

Nielsen said its Digital Ad Ratings measure 90% of digital spending and that 60% of that would still be measured with third-party cookies.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting + Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.