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The Case for Growth Through Transparency: A Way Forward for Digital Advertising

In recent months, Apple and Firefox changed their browser policies to phase out third-party cookie tracking and Google announced its intention to do the same within two years. While these changes are meant to benefit consumers, they unintentionally create an environment in which marketers have less objective insight into the audiences that see their ads on apps, platforms and websites—particularly if the use cases of publishers and advertisers are not addressed. Without an independent view, market confidence in digital advertising could see significant erosion. 

At Nielsen, building confidence through disruption is part of our DNA. In 1950, we introduced the first TV ratings in response to the launch of the first national broadcasters. As viewing fragmented, we pioneered methods to correct biases in big data sources so they could be introduced into our media panels. Today, we are innovating to measure digital and streaming and create a new measurement paradigm to keep the common market intact.

What all these moments have in common with the current one is that transparency is essential to unlocking growth. Digital media supports an ecosystem that connects people around the world. For it to continue growing, the market needs confidence that the measurement it depends on is unbiased, built with a fundamental respect for consumer privacy, and can survive the next decade of media innovation. 

Here are three initiatives we are embarking on to ensure Nielsen measurement continues to bring transparency to digital advertising:  

  • The new model for media measurement. Measuring the future of digital advertising requires techniques and technology that don’t depend on cookies or other forms of shared digital identity. We are working with major connected TV players to measure the audiences who see ads on their platforms. For example, Nielsen has been working closely with Google to ensure our measurement of YouTube is available to marketers through Google’s Ads Data Hub environment. These pivotal moves and others like them ensure that Nielsen will continue to provide an evolving market with transparency.
  • Privacy-centric innovation. As our digital advertising measurement evolves, we are striving to put that privacy at the center of our design requirements and methodologies. We are focused on developing new algorithms, models and deduplication methodologies that take into account consumer choices about how data is collected and used at a ground level. This is now a table-stakes requirement for all products. With privacy at the core of product development, we will build solutions that provide greater insight into how ads drive reach and outcomes across platforms.
  • A truth set for cross-platform media. As media fragments and barriers to direct measurement grow, the role of truth sets in media increases exponentially. Through investments in our media panels, Nielsen is expanding the devices and sources we cover to power cross-site and cross-platform reach, frequency and ROI analytics. This includes both sample and census-based measurement. We are focused on expanding our measurement coverage to reflect the diversity of what people around the world listen to, watch and read.

Once again, the choice our industry faces is to grow through transparency or contract with market fragmentation. At Nielsen, we believe it is absolutely possible to have both consumer privacy and market fairness—and we are committed to making sure that happens.

This article was originally published in Adweek.