Nielsen Partners With Facebook, Other Websites To Measure Ad Views Online

If you don’t like the concept of having your online actions tracked for marketing purposes, you can add Nielsen to you list of sworn enemies. The audience measurement company is better known for its TV viewer ratings, but yesterday it announced a new partnership with websites like Facebook where it will access user info (age and gender only, it says) to collect aggregate data on ad views around the web.

From the Media Decoder blog at the New York Times:

For example, if a user logs on to Facebook (a Nielsen media partner) and then visits another Web site where an ad that Nielsen is tracking is shown, Nielsen will put a pixel in the ad that will prompt Facebook to send Nielsen the age and gender of the people who viewed the ad.

As usual, if you want to avoid any of this, try using ad-blocking software and/or turn off third-party cookies. Nielsen also says you can opt-out by going to its website, but if you’re against tracking schemes, probably the last thing you want to do is play by the rules the tracking company sets up.

“Nielsen Introduces New Ad Measurement Product” [New York Times]

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  1. Moosehawk says:

    These jerks sent me $35 in cash in the mail as a forward for taking a in-home survey. That was pretty cool.

    I’m pretty in the clear with Ad-block Plus anyway.

    • CookiePuss says:

      What a bunch of sneaky bastards! They only sent me $3. 3 crispy singles. Still thought it was kinda cool though. :D

  2. jason in boston says:

    Adblock and NoScript. The websites are much cleaner looking that way.

    • humphrmi says:

      I’ve been using adblock for so long, that I actually forgot what some websites look like without it. It’s a shock when I use a public computer and go to a website that I frequent.

    • Conformist138 says:

      That is exactly how my browser is set up. I have a really bad connection I’m at or near work, ads literally make most pages nonfunctional- the whole thing just gives up before loading the page. It also is one part of my security against the public wi-fi I use- I really don’t want anything coming through unless I give it permission.

      I also totally killed facebook.com by setting up some file that basically reroutes the site to nothingness. I did that because it seems EVERY site (including consumerist, thank you very much) links to facebook, takes forever to establish the connection, and is all for nothing since I don’t use facebook.

  3. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    So this is to, what, help Facebook show you ads you’ve already seen on other sites? Wouldn’t it be more useful to FB to know what kind of sites you’re visiting rather than the ads that happen to be on sites you’re visiting? It’d be one thing if the ad had anything to do with the site but they often don’t. A lot of times the ads don’t even seem to have anything to do with the site’s target audience.

  4. dragonfire81 says:

    Do you guys actually forget that some websites require ad revenue to exist and that by blocking ads you are costing the site owners money? If you really like the site, you should find a way to support it, even if that means disabling the adblocker once in a while.

    • bsh0544 says:

      You know, I used to skip the ad-blocker for exactly that reason. And then I got fed up with stupid ads, so I got it but didn’t subscribe to anything, so only the stuff I manually blacklisted (really annoying stuff) got blocked. And then a whole bunch of websites started using sound in their ads, or the ghost-popover ads, or oddly worse still, ads that just took a metric ton of system resources, which would pretty much murder my poor little laptop. In direct response to all of the advertising whose sole apparent purpose is to irritate the hell out of me, I finally caved and subscribed to a blacklist. Bam, internet is bearable again. GG, advertisers.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      “Site owners need the money” doesn’t justify sites having ads that contain malware, loud noises, ads for outright scams, etc. which a lot of sites have.

      Some sites don’t and for those I can trust, like The Consumerist, I do make an exception in AdBlockerPro. But I’m not going to apologize for protecting my computer.

      • DanRydell says:

        Quit going to shady porn sites and you won’t have to worry about that stuff.

        • Rectilinear Propagation says:

          If you went someplace other than shady porn sites you’d know those aren’t the only sites that do that.

        • RvLeshrac says:

          Most news and television websites have, at at least one point, used an ad-serving company that was compromised by said ads.

          Cleaned up a machine that was infected by an ad on the Post website just a few months back, and the Post is *still* running that ad in the rotation.

    • jessjj347 says:

      You only support the site if you click on the ads…the site doesn’t know whether you look at the ad.

      That would require eye tracking study that you would consent to and do in person…

    • zlionsfan says:

      Hmm … first of all, websites don’t “require” ad revenue. The business model that the operators chose includes ad revenue. If that’s something that can be affected by how I view the site, that’s their problem, not mine.

      Second, views are all well and good (if you actually believe there’s value in tracking views, which is a problem in and of itself), but savvy businesses are looking for traffic, which means clicks, not simply views … and I almost never click on ads even when I don’t block them. In my experience, most online ads are exactly like most TV ads: crude, loud, and targeted at people other than me. I mute them or fast-forward through them on TV. Why would I watch or click them online?

      Fortunately, most sites give you a way to provide them directly with revenue, and in most cases, that will far exceed whatever pittance they’d collect through forcing ads on you. That’s how I support sites I like; others that are stuck with the television paradigm, the idea that they and not I should control how I view their site, well, I guess they’ll learn eventually.

    • Conformist138 says:

      Like others pointed out: First, they want me to actually click the ad, and that I never do. Second, they REALLY want me to purchase something after clicking the ad, and that has literally never happened. Third, on a limited connection, the bandwidth sucked by animated and noisy ads, or for some reason the need for about 10 different trackers to be involved, has finally made some sites nonfunctional. So, my choice is to either disable ads that I don’t want to see and will not click, or just never see the site at all. The site is free, I am under no obligation to click ads, so turning them off is not “stealing”. If the site has zero other revenue stream and they are counting on me to click ads to provide it for them, well, it’s not gonna happen.

      Oh, and the number of scammy “businesses” and “offers” mixed with occassional malware really sealed the deal- lots of sites don’t choose exactly who is advertising on their site, it can be whatever is assigned to them by an ad company. So, shaddy stuff can get slipped in just about anywhere, particularly on the blog sites that ironically rely on ads the most. Sucks to be them, but until ads are safer and less intrusive, I just won’t bother with them.

  5. Kevin says:

    They ought to partner with Adblock Plus and Remove It Permanently and count the number of ads I didn’t see.

  6. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    I guess while we’re all talking about it, is there a good ad blocking thing for Opera?

  7. AngryK9 says:

    I don’t even know if I’ve entered my age and gender in FB…If I did I lied about it (14/f/NYC)

    • Zegridathes says:

      My Facebook “age” is 96.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      I did that too and caused some confusion when I used the internet connection at my in laws house. For whatever reason, Facebook wanted me to enter my birthday to verify my identity and I had to guess what my fake one was.

      I’m guessing there are a lot of scams originating from their ISP.

  8. kenskreations says:

    Okay. Let’s talk about Sitemeter which “The Comsumerist” uses to track traffic. Didn’t know about this? Yesterday I was looking at the comments in another article and noticed a spot on my display that looked strange. So I clicked on it and it opened up a site called Sitemeter. From that site I learned that it tracked how many hits were recorded each day, average length and other information. What’s your opinion? Is this right? I thought for this website it would be a “NO – NO”. Comments please.