While the ad industry has embraced conventional audience ratings as a method for determining the reach of their online ad campaigns, new trend data from Nielsen indicates that brands are basing their digital audience buys on increasingly narrower targets. The data suggests that marketers target more narrowly with digital media than with television, and that as more advertisers begin utilizing digital media ratings, they gravitate toward increasingly narrower segments.
The data, which comes from the second annual Online Campaign Ratings Benchmarks report being released today, shows that the percentage of campaigns targeting broad demographics declined from 40% when Nielsen first benchmarked the marketplace last year to 36% this year.
The shift doesn’t necessarily represent a change in the behavior of specific marketers, but may represent a shift in the composition of marketers utilizing the OCR ratings. Nielsen executives say the number of campaigns being tagged for OCR ratings has doubled in the past year to more than 10,000 currently.
Regardless of the reason for the shift toward narrower targeting, the result is that a lower percentage of online campaigns are reaching their intended targets. The percentage declined from 69% of all campaign impressions being tracked last year to only 59% this year.
“It’s mostly due to the fact that there has been a change in the diversity of the kind of campaigns that are being tracked,” explains David Wong, vice president-product leadership at Nielsen.
While the decline in the overall percentage of targets reached with online campaigns dropped 10 percentage points in the past year, Wong says it actually reflects a positive trend from Nielsen’s point of view, because it means more brands are utilizing the data to target their audiences more narrowly. “It means they are using OCR to measure their ROI,” he says.Wong says the next development to keep an eye on is Nielsen’s next report, which will include data on mobile audience exposure, which Nielsen began tracking in July. The next report including the mobile audience data should be released near the end of 2014.