Nielsen Starts Measuring Effectiveness of Mobile Ads

Flurry, YuMe and Zynga Will Be Nielsen Mobile Brand Effect's First Customers

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Got an opinion about that ad on your smartphone? Nielsen wants to hear it.

The media measurement company is expected to announce Wednesday it will start assessing consumer sentiment regarding in-app mobile ads with its new product Nielsen Mobile Brand Effect. Now available in the U.S, it's already being used by app analytics firm Flurry, multi-screen ad network YuMe and social game developer Zynga.

Mobile Brand Effect will bring Nielsen's traditional brand metrics -- awareness, attitude, favorability and purchase intent--to Android, iOS and Windows devices via in-app surveys. (No dice, BlackBerry.) After a user is exposed to a certain in-app ad on a smartphone or tablet, he or she may be invited to take a one-question survey about that particular brand or product.

Whether or not mobile users will be receptive to these surveys is unclear. Consumers generally find mobile ads to be more interruptive than television ads, according to a Forrester survey released in late 2012.

"Being interrupted while checking email and using apps is not desirable," Peter Dille, CMO for mobile advertising and monetization company Tapjoy, said in an earlier interview.

The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), a non-profit trade association that Nielsen is a member of, endorsed the product and said that improved mobile ad metrics are crucial, regardless of how annoying mobile surveys may be.

"If we don't have measurement tools, and if we don't evaluate the performance of the experience we're providing, there's no way we can continue to improve and evolve," MMA managing director Michael Becker said. The survey results will determine what kinds of mobile ads are too intrusive, he added.

Nielsen's distinct advantage in mobile ad metrics is its reach in measuring other mediums. Mobile Brand Effect findings will be tied to the company's browser metrics. It will not be tied to Nielsen's signature TV ratings initially, but the company is working to develop that functionality. Eventually, Nielsen hopes to create a suite of metrics that inform how brands can most effectively market across various devices.

Although Nielsen is widely considered the most renowned company in traditional media research, measuring mobile app ads will be a challenge for a company that made its name in TV. Nielsen Mobile Brand Effect will be competing with digital analytics firm comScore which has already conducted several hundred case studies on how in-app ad campaigns affected brand lift.

There are also a handful of venture capital-backed startups that, while young, have been developing mobile ad solutions for years.

Nihal Mehta, CEO and co-founder of ad tech startup LocalResponse, said that even though Nielsen might be behind technology-wise, Nielsen Mobile Brand Effect helps legitimize the mobile ad industry.

"Maybe [Nielsen is] late to the party, but it's still the gold standard," he said.

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