'Digital content ratings need to evolve to overnight' - Nicole Sheffield

Arvind Hickman
By Arvind Hickman | 31 October 2017
News Corp chief digital officer Nicole Sheffield at the IAB Measure Up conference.

Digital Content Ratings (DCR) are still some way off from providing true commercial value to publishers because they do not deliver overnight figures, the turnaround is too slow and media buyers want more sophisticated attribution linked to metrics.

That’s the verdict from a panel of industry leaders at the IAB’s recent Measure Up conference in Sydney.

The panel featured News Corp chief digital officer Nicole Sheffield, GroupM chief digital officer John Miskelly, Nielsen SVP of product leadership Jessica Hogue and Nielsen head of media industry group Monique Perry and was moderated by IAB Australia director of research Gai Le Roy.

Sheffield opened by admitting, she didn’t think it has been “a fine year for digital at all” but “the exciting thing is our audiences keep growing and engagement keeps growing”.

When asked about the impact of DCR, she candidly said: “DCR is the right commitment but until we have overnights we can’t do anything with it. There’s still a bit to go.”

At present, DCR is delivered to media owners with a three-day lag, which is some way is some way off the overnight ratings OzTAM provides TV networks. Coincidentally, TV is currently trying to evolve how media buyers and advertisers value ratings data to include seven-day catch up audiences.


Gai Le Roy, Nicole Sheffield, John Miskelly, Jessica Hogue and Monique Perry.

Sheffield believes the ability to shorten the lag as well as understand readership patterns over time is required for advertiser confidence in the figures, "and that’s when you’ll see the commercial return”.

However, she stresses: “We need to know right here, right now, this second.”

GroupM’s digital head John Miskelly warns that DCR is “sort of” helping media buyers but there are still important missing pieces of the puzzle – namely better attribution modelling that is more joined up with measurement.

“I would throw caution to the wind [about DCR’s potential to unlock greater commercial investment],” he said.

“[We need] good planning tools to help us allocate budgets, but the vast majority of advertisers are looking at last click attribution as a measure of success. It’s also not joined up.”

Miskelly would like measurement to move beyond basic demographics and for there to be consistency of measurement across all major digital media publishers.

“We are interested in apples for apples comparisons. We need a common currency across digital and major platforms like Facebook,” he said.

Although Facebook helps Nielsen measure the volume of off-platform traffic digital publishers attract – that is when readers read an article within its walled garden – it doesn’t not allow Nielsen to measure its own traffic within DCR.

Facebook also doesn’t allow independent measurement of its figures, rather it partners with measurement firms like Moat, IAS and CommScore and provides them with data that they can then verify as being accurate.

This is a marked improvement from previous times when Facebook wouldn’t allow any verification but media buyers still want independent measurement of its data at source.

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