IAB Market Guidance on Digital Audience and Volumetric Measurement

On April 21, 2021 Media Releases

21st April 2021: The IAB Australia’s Board, Executive and Measurement Council believe having a robust, transparent, standardised currency from an independent measurement vendor is vitally important in providing a level playing field for comparison of audience reach and characteristics and provides confidence to advertisers for planning decisions on where to invest their media budgets. In a recent strategic review of digital audience measurement commissioned by the IAB, most buy and sell side respondents indicated independent audience measurement provides value as a single source of truth and believe that it will remain relevant over forthcoming years despite the ongoing shift towards programmatic trading.

The retirement of third-party cookies and the increasing emphasis on digital privacy from regulatory, consumer and platform perspectives require changes to how Nielsen measure digital audiences. Nielsen are in the process of developing a new product to measure digital audiences for content environments visited by Australians. The IAB see the new Digital Media Ratings, to be released by Nielsen in soft launch on Thursday 22nd April, as an interim step in a longer-term transformation needed to adjust to new market conditions.

In the limited time frame for review, the IAB is currently unable to support the tagged monthly audience data being provided in soft launch by Nielsen in the new Digital Media Ratings product as outstanding methodology concerns and data queries remain unresolved. This audience data includes monthly unique audience, reach % and rankings for tagged entities.

There have been no changes to methodology for volumetric data measured from media owner tagging and the IAB continues to support market usage and reliance on this overnight traffic data (e.g., page views, time spent, sessions metrics).

The methodology for audience for untagged sites remains unchanged. 

The IAB Board and IAB Measurement Council (representing 15 media & agency organisations) take the endorsement of ratings currency data very seriously. The most recent iteration of data produced for tagged clients under the new methodology was provided to the Measurement Council in early April and this has been reviewed in parallel with data produced under the previous Digital Content Ratings methodology.

The methodology change has resulted in significantly different data under this new interim step audience measurement solution.  The Measurement Council is concerned with the broad range of variation and inconsistency of impact on unique audiences under the new methodology and have queries on these variances and why the new methodology produces such different data.

The new methodology has increased reliance on observations from the panel in determining audience reach. As there is less panel sample for small to medium sized sites, a different methodology based on machine learning modelling is used to estimate the audience for these sites and to plug other gaps in the panel census methodology. There are considerable concerns with the machine learning model including limited months of training data, the relevance of training data degrading over time and difficulties in explaining data movements due to the nature of computation.

The IAB Board and Measurement Council will continue to review this new product for future short-term endorsement and currently advise caution in reliance on this new audience data in Digital Media Ratings for ranking and direct comparisons of audience and per person derived metrics. As the measurement solution evolves and support status changes the IAB will revisit this market guidance statement.

Audience Measurement Data in Market


What is it?

Product Name from 22/4/21

Previous Name

IAB Data Usage Guidance

Daily, Weekly and Monthly Volumetrics Data

Overnight traffic data from publishers that have their sites & apps tagged for measurement with Nielsen. Metrics include views (page impressions), total sessions, time spent, time spent per view, time per session & app launches.

Digital Media Ratings Volumetrics

Select ‘Volumetrics Reporting’

Digital Content Ratings Volumetrics

The IAB continues to support these metrics as the methodology has not changed.

Monthly Tagged Audience/Reach Data (including rankings)

Monthly data that provides an estimate of the deduplicated number of people (unique audience) that visit a tagged content brand or sub-brand at least once a month as well as other monthly audience derived metrics including reach %, average frequency, average time spent per person & sessions per person.

Digital Media Ratings (soft launch)

‘Standard Reporting’

Digital Content Ratings

Due to significant changes to methodology & data, which are still under review, this data is not currently supported by the IAB.

Respondent level data for duplication purposes

Audience data that can be used to assess deduplicated reach across a range of content brands & sub-brands. Also used for data fusion & integration into other data sets.


Digital Content Planning

IAB guidance to be provided when new monthly audience data is available.

During the soft launch period, Nielsen will not be releasing audience rankings using Digital Media Ratings data in press releases. Nielsen clients should continue to submit their marketing claims using Digital Media Ratings data to Nielsen for review and approval prior to publishing.  Nielsen have also stated that comparisons and trending of audience metrics across old to new methodologies are not valid.

With regard to endorsed digital audience data in the longer term future, the IAB has previously announced it appointed Venture Consulting to conduct a strategic industry review of digital audience measurement currency requirements.  The review will be the basis for the standards and specifications of a tender for an online audience measurement services RFP which will be issued in May 2021, inviting measurement vendors to submit their services for tender evaluation.  The invitation will culminate in vendor/s being endorsed as the preferred supplier/s for the planning, buying, and reporting of online audience measurement.