Australian Digital Audience Measurement 


For nearly 10 years the IAB has endorsed a sole and exclusive provider for the measurement of digital audience content consumption. This sole and exclusive provider status was first appointed by the IAB in 2011 at a time when the online space had been using a variety of measurement tools, making it extremely difficult for advertisers to compare and understand the value of digital audiences across media properties.

The move to an industry supported standardised currency, provided by leading independent measurement organisation Nielsen, gave a level playing field for comparison of audience qualities and characteristics and hence greater confidence to advertisers for planning decisions on where to invest their media budgets. It also helped media owners to demonstrate the unique attributes of their properties and help commercialisation of their content.


An industry currency is as important in today’s intensely competitive advertising market as it was a decade ago. Last year the IAB conducted a ‘Future of Measurement Review’ to understand the priorities of the industry with regards to digital measurement including content ratings, ad ratings, ad verification and ad impact. The review found that advertisers and agencies are still looking for industry agreed online measurement that brings accountability for their investments and ways to evaluate opportunities and measure success consistently across all media.

It has always been important for the measurement currency to evolve and develop over time to reflect market and consumer changes. Today, browsers and governments are reacting to consumer demands for greater privacy protection and the cookie, much relied on for measurement, will soon disappear. As is the case for all media owners, advertisers and agencies, tech and research vendors in the digital advertising market, adjustment is vital to remain compliant with changes in privacy regulations and be sustainable in the “cookie-less” future.  Future-proofing the audience measurement solution will address –

  • removing reliance on 3rd party cookies
  • having less reliance on 3rd party data providers
  • the future role of industry content (media environment) data with increasing programmatic buying
  • agency & client focus on campaign ratings/measurement
  • agency & client priority for cross-media measurement
  • consideration of soon to be released WFA cross media standards (video focus)
  • financial sustainability of a primarily media owner funded system

To ensure the digital industry currency is at the forefront of these current market changes, Nielsen are making active steps to future-proof the measurement solution. Methodology adjustment is important to maintain a privacy by design approach for measurement and be ready for limited reliance on 3rd party datasets due to stricter privacy laws and cookie degradation.


This new future-proofed approach, coming in early 2021, remains a hybrid people-based measurement system which combines the best of a media quality panel and detailed census data from a wide range of publishers. Into the future media-quality, privacy compliant measurement panels provided by industry agreed suppliers become more important in delivering people-based audience data for advertising planning and campaign performance measurement across the whole market.

Providing the industry with text and video content consumption on browsers and apps across desktop/laptop, smartphones and tablets remains the focus for delivering monthly ratings data across categories in Nielsen’s Digital Content Ratings tool.  The new data will continue to be inclusive and report on all digital properties regardless of their involvement with the IAB, to provide the industry with comparable data on over 6,500 media organisations, brands and channels each month.

Throughout this year Nielsen will continue to build on the body of work already commenced to deliver text and video respondent level data in the Digital Content Planning tool currently in beta with text only data. This respondent level data not only enables audience duplication analysis but provides the foundations for digital data to be fused with other media currencies providing industry standard cross-media measurement that is vital to meet advertiser needs.


The IAB will continue to endorse an independent measurement system with the oversight of the digital industry and the  IAB Measurement Council, with 13 media owners, agency, and MFA representation. The IAB Measurement Council will review Nielsen’s new methodology and preview data to ensure it meets the high standards necessary for a media currency and continued industry endorsement.

Through the remainder of 2020 the IAB will be working with Nielsen towards this new privacy compliant and future-proofed audience measurement system based on industry standards accepted by advertisers, agencies and media. Digital audience measurement will continue to evolve in the changing landscape, making steps towards cross-media measurement that everyone seeks.

To find out more about the changes coming to Nielsen's Digital Content Ratings click here



  1. An audience focused measurement system which tracks all behaviour on browsers and apps across desktop/laptop, smartphones and tablets.
  2. Inclusive data reporting on all properties in a fair and equal manner, regardless of their involvement with the IAB, to provide the industry with comparable ratings data on all players.
  3. An independent system with the oversight by the digital industry and the IAB and regularly reviewed by the IAB Measurement Council made up of 13 media owners, agency, and MFA representation
  4. Privacy compliant measurement system utilising a hybrid approach which combines the best of a media quality panel and detailed census data from a wide range of publishers
  5. Respondent level data that allows for duplication analysis of digital properties for media planning and digital data to be fused with other media currencies providing industry standard cross-media measurement



Natalie Stanbury
Research Director



IAB Australia is the peak trade association for online advertising in Australia.

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