Announcing The NCS Learning Lab On Viewability And Attention

At this year’s ARF Re!Think Conference, NCS debuted its Learning Lab on Viewability and Attention to extend the industry’s understanding — and opportunity — around the effectiveness of viewable ads.

Along with an all-star cast including Kellogg’s and Yahoo, Nielsen Catalina Solutions worked with Moat to reveal how two-second standards for video viewability don’t tell the whole story. Using in-store incremental sales as the KPI, early results illustrate the correlation between attention and outcomes: as Time In View increased, so did Sales Impact. Further, the 0-2 second window which would not qualify as a viewable impression did indeed drive some return.


What’s the implication for brands and publishers? For one, it means not looking beyond the current viewability standards leaves a lot of effectiveness on the table. Brands should (and can, with NCS and Moat) assess inventory performance second-by-second to optimize the sweet spot for future creative and media buys. In the same breath, publishers can more accurately inspect and promote the value of their inventory against results at the register.

To expand your campaign’s view into attention metrics, get in touch with NCS here.

Nielsen Catalina Solutions Brings Largest CPG Purchase Dataset To Facebook Advertisers

CINCINNATI, OHIO – Sept 22, 2016 – Nielsen Catalina Solutions (NCS), the leader in purchase-based targeting and return on ad spend measurement for the CPG industry, today announced an agreement with Facebook that will allow marketers to use CPG purchase data from NCS to measure the in-store sales impact of their Facebook ads.

NCS has the largest, most representative CPG purchase dataset in the industry, with in-store purchase data from over 90 million U.S. households, across more than 18,000 retail and drugstore locations. This shopper data is calibrated with Nielsen Homescan® and Retail Measurement Services (RMS) data to effectively cover nearly 100% of all-outlet U.S. CPG spend. Combining this purchase data with ad exposure information from Facebook will allow CPG marketers to identify their most responsive consumers and understand the impact their advertising has on in-store sales.

“Together, Facebook and NCS are collaborating to provide the industry with a closed-loop solution that helps marketers better understand the sales impact of their advertising on Facebook, Instagram and Audience Network”

– Brad Smallwood, VP Measurement & Insights, Facebook

“The ability to measure results using the deep CPG expertise of NCS is beneficial to our clients.” “The most important thing to understand about data – in the context of advertising – is that the quality of the audience segments and the measurement can only be as good as the data itself,” said Matt O’Grady, CEO, Nielsen Catalina Solutions. “Combining the highest quality purchase data with the huge reach and the resulting ad exposure data from Facebook, we can get a deep understanding of how these ads are driving consumers to purchase. This only scratches the surface of what we will be able to do together in the future.”

NCS (Nielsen Catalina Solutions) is a purchase-based ad targeting and ROAS measurement firm serving the CPG industry. We integrate in-store purchase data from over 90 MM households with media exposure data from TV, online, mobile, print, radio and CRM to help consumer packaged goods advertisers, agencies and media companies define their most valuable audience, reach them with advertising and measure incremental sales from the campaign. The joint venture between Nielsen and Catalina has helped over 200 advertisers and 450+ brands optimize ad performance to drive revenue growth and increase return on ad spend.

Yahoo And NCS Deliver Sales Impact On Search Ads For Chobani

In our second industry-first case study this month, NCS paired up with Yahoo and Chobani to measure the incremental sales impact of search advertising, and the resulting 1.3% conquest of market share was enough to sweeten anyone’s day.

This was a closed-loop campaign, meaning that Chobani not only used NCS to measure results at the cash register, but also took a smarter approach to its media plan from the very beginning by targeting NCS’ buyergraphic audiences (Chobani buyers, in this case) on the Yahoo search platform. An incremental sales lift to the tune of 9% was the reward for a job well done on everyone’s part, optimizing the media plan and quantifying the outcomes.

If you’re a bit hazy on how incremental sales are measured, read the AdAge coverage or allow our friend Marty to drop ninety seconds of knowledge:

Silk Taps Into A 10% Incremental Sales Lift Thanks To Influencer Marketing

In a first-of-its-kind study, NCS came together with TapInfluence’s influencer marketing platform to realize in-store sales lift for WhiteWave Foods’ Silk brands.

This was an especially interesting study for us, not only because it was the first to tie influencer marketing to attributable sales lift at the cash register, but because it blurred the line between what traditional media would consider a pageview vs. an impression.

To test the TapInfluence platform and influencer content, WhiteWave selected over 250 bloggers to create recipes themed around “Meatless Monday Nights”, wherein a Silk product would be featured among the ingredients. NCS then measured the in-store behavior of consumers who read the articles vs. a control group who did not, resulting in a 10% incremental sales lift and $285 of incremental sales per 1,000 pageviews.

Even more interesting was the fact that WhiteWave did not ask to have the Silk brand mentioned in any of the bloggers’ social shares linking to their articles — so while the audience made a conscious decision to read the content, their exposure to Silk was unsolicited, much like a traditional impression.

NCS Silk Case Study Incremental Sales

Download the full case study here, and check out TapInfluence’s webinar coverage of this study to learn more about influencer marketing.

Viewability: A Purchase-Based Approach (Infographic)

There are some ideas in life that are so logical, it would be extremely difficult –nearly impossible, really – to refute their validity. For example, if you pay for someone to cut your grass on a weekly basis, you have every reasonable expectation that the job will get done for the agreed upon price. This is the basic premise of commerce: people barter for goods and services and then exchange them for a “fair” price as determined by our free market economy in the good old U S of A.

The digital advertising industry, however, seems to have managed to complicate our premise of commerce slightly. The hottest buzzword in the digital ecosystem right now is viewability, which refers to whether or not a paid advertisement (an message that someone pays to have shown to people) is actually being seen by the totality of the audience a publisher is purporting to have shown the ad to.

To fully grasp the absurdity of this issue, let’s return to our grass cutting analogy. What if you found out that your local grass cutting service wasn’t actually cutting your grass, but instead was taking your agreed upon fee, and only cutting a section of your lawn, or not showing up at all? Certainly this type of business practice would not stand.

When it comes to the vast amounts of inventory that make up the advertising opportunities on the internet, noticing that ads aren’t viewable is not as straight forward as noticing that your grass is now knee-high. Let’s break it down in this infographic, wherein we made the robots as cute as possible to keep the peace in the adtech sector. Enjoy:

Viewability And PBT

The Drink Up Campaign Is Improving America’s Health, One Drink of Water at a Time

Drink Up Campaign delivers 4 percent increase in bottled water category sales among viewers of the ads.

While fragmentation has become quite the buzzword across the media landscape, it’s just as prevalent in some key retail categories. Take the refrigerated beverage aisle at your favorite convenience store, for example. Chances are you’d need to walk a good 10 steps or so just to evaluate all the options behind the frosty glass doors.

From fizzy to energy-boosting to classic cola, beverage makers have their work cut out for themselves if they want to catch the eyes of busy, fast-moving consumers. With so many options, where does that leave water? While it doesn’t have the flair of an option that’s infused with super fruit nectar, water is after all, the drink of life. And with the right marketing campaign, research shows that water can stand out.

But that doesn’t mean that water can’t leverage the same eye-catching marketing tactics that others use – and successfully, too. NCS has confirmed that the Drink Up campaign in its second year of work has boosted sales of bottled water and filtered water products 4% among those who were exposed to the ads compared with those who did not see the ads. The campaign has also yielded a return of $6 in estimated incremental sales for every dollar spent on advertising. The NCS study release today – the second in two years – shows that by focusing on the best-performing audience segments and adjusting its media plan along the way, the Drink Up campaign was focused and successful. It also helped meet Drink Up’s overall objective: get people to drink more water.

It wasn’t too long ago that the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) and First Lady Michelle Obama collaborated to form the Drink Up initiative encouraging Americans to drink more water. The premise was simple, but tracking the results was critical in understanding if Drink Up’s messaging was resonating with consumers. During the initial phase of the initiative, Nielsen Catalina Solutions (NCS) found that the Drink Up campaign drove a 3% lift in incremental sales of bottled water among people who had seen the campaign’s online ads. That equates to almost $1 million in incremental retail sales of bottled water. As previously stated, this year’s data showed a 4% increase during the same period of time a year later.


For the recent study, NCS focused on the purchasing habits of households that were exposed to online Drink Up ads during the 13-week period between Oct. 2 and Dec. 31, 2014. To measure the impact of the campaign on in-store sales, NCS used a single-source methodology to determine the incremental retail sales lift of bottled water and water filter products among the households exposed to the ads. NCS then compared the purchases from those households with those of a control group that did not see the advertising.

In looking at the results from the second study, the Well Beings and the Fence-Sitters both responded favorably to the online advertising. The Well Beings were more responsive, however, as they drove more than 51% of the incremental retail sales, generating $143 in sales for every 1,000 impressions served. Comparatively, the Fence Sitters contributed 14% of the sales volume and generated $16 in sales for every 1,000 impressions.


So where did the increase in water sales come from? The study found that as bottled water, water filters and sparkling water increased, carbonated soft drinks, milk and juice lost market share. The study also found that the increased sales were driven by people buying more water per shopping trip and buying it more often rather than by growing the number of new purchasers.


To measure the effectiveness of the campaign, NCS identified two groups of nearly identical households that were matched on hundreds of variables, including the mix of category and brand purchases, during the 12 months before the campaign:

  • Households exposed to the ads.
  • Households not exposed to the ads.

NCS then measured the sales differences between the two groups during and after the campaign. In addition to the total sales, key metrics such as penetration, buying rate, occasions and purchase amount were determined to see what factors drove the sales results.

About the Partnership for a Healthier America

PHA is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that is led by some of the nation’s most respected health and childhood obesity experts. PHA brings together public, private and nonprofit leaders to broker meaningful commitments and develop strategies to end childhood obesity. Most important, PHA ensures that commitments made are commitments kept by working with unbiased third parties to monitor and publicly report on the progress our partners are making. For more information, visit

In-Flight Optimization Explained

When an imaginative product bursts onto the scene, a predictable cycle of reactions takes place. Take the Cronut, for example; when chef Dominique Ansel first released his croissant-donut hybrid pastry to the world, reactions oscillated from novel curiosity to sheer confusion to demand that bordered on mass hysteria.

Unlike the Cronut, we will try and avoid this fate for NCS’s newest tool for maximizing return on ad spend dollars, a product called In-Flight Optimization. Like the Cronut, In-Flight Optimization is a sweet new offering on the market and its benefits are clear and simple: In-Flight allows media professionals executing CPG campaigns to understand which taggable, executional campaign elements are performing best in terms of driving incremental buyers of the product – tasty information indeed.

To help you keep ahead of the hip new trends in media optimization, we’ve put together the most frequently asked questions regarding In-Flight Optimization, so there is no confusion with ineffective metrics like click through rate.

What is In-Flight Optimization and how will it benefit my campaign?

In-Flight allows publishers and agencies to maximize incremental offline sales conversions by continuously refining key executional campaign parameters while a campaign is still running. The solution identifies which ad creative, placement, frequency, audience, or any other campaign element is driving the most incremental sales so that you can optimize impressions each week. Leading advertisers have already seen over 15% increases in incremental sales on top of typical purchase habits after households were exposed to the optimized elements.

What executional campaign elements can be refined?

 That’s up to you – implementation is simple in that any taggable campaign element can be reported on in terms of its ability to drive incremental sales conversions. Clients have used In-Flight to understand which creative, segmentation strategy, context, ad format, or ad placement are performing best for their campaign, to name just a few. If you can tag it, we can include it in our In-Flight analysis. Up to 20 or 30 taggable elements may be reported on in a single campaign, even things like viewability.

What is meant by incremental sales conversions? How do you isolate conversions as ‘incremental’?

Matching buying HHs to our best-in-class CPG sales database, we are able to execute the In-Flight analysis thus:

  1. First, we ask the question: Did the household convert (to an incremental sale)?
    • If yes, which tactics were the household exposed to?
    • Then, we conduct an analysis of the household:
      • How many dollars did the household spend on this category in the last 52 weeks?
      • How many dollars did the household spend on this brand (down to the UPC level) in the last 52 weeks?
      • How many days has it been since the household last bought this product?
  2. Next, we review items like typical purchase cycle, demographics, and any other buying habits, such as retailer-specific behavior.
  3. After observing all of the above behaviors, we are able to isolate households who purchased (and which tactic they were exposed to) from households who were already going to convert without exposure to any tactic, ensuring that we’re reporting only incremental sales. We then can report back the incremental sales as the key indicator for the response to advertising, in addition to the total sales that occurred without the influence of advertising.

What is the timeline for delivering results?

Results are delivered weekly, beginning with the fourth or fifth week of a campaign, as it typically takes four weeks for enough sales data to be generated to understand which tactics are performing best. The weekly results are based on purchase data continuously sent directly to In-Flight Optimization from more than 10,000 stores.

For how long should a campaign run to take advantage of In-Flight Optimization?

Campaigns should run for at least eight weeks, which should give media planners sufficient opportunity to shift, at minimum, impressions for 40% of the campaign.

Is there a particular type of campaign that In-Flight works best for?

Apart from the eight-week flight minimum, In-Flight can work for any campaign with multiple taggable elements. However, the ability to shift impressions from one tactic to another is required to achieve the maximum benefit.

Since In-Flight ensures that campaign dollars are optimally deployed, it makes sense that any high-stakes campaign would leverage this technology. For example, if you’re using 80% of your media spend during one particular time of the year (i.e. the holidays, allergy season, etc.), it’s even more critical that every impression is working effectively during that campaign.

From where is the purchase data sourced?

In-Flight purchase data is sourced from our best-in-class, proprietary CPG data set.

A Fresh Take on the Frozen Aisle: Catalina and 4INFO Drive Strong Return for Frozen Entrée Brand

The frozen foods category has faced some challenges when trying to appeal to more new-age health conscious consumers. Rather than be written off as the innutritious, uninventive option for a snack or dinner, frozen-food brand marketers are striking back with creative campaigns to reposition themselves as another version of the fresh food that many consumers are after.

There is evidence that these marketing campaigns are working. Recently, a premium frozen entrée brand saw their product fly out of the frozen food aisle and in to the iceboxes of their target audience at an impressive rate, on the heels of a very successful mobile ad campaign run on Catalina BuyerVision powered by 4INFO.

The goal of the campaign was to drive conversions among previous purchasers of frozen single-serve entrée products. Over the course of the 7-week campaign, the brand realized an impressive $6 sales return for every $1 spent on the mobile campaign.

In addition to proving the offline sales lift driven by the campaign, NCS’ Sales Effect measurement study yielded other key findings for the brands. For example, the campaign was most effective in driving conversions of users who have a Female Head of Household aged 45-54, HH’s with children aged 12-17, Male Head of Households aged 45-54, and households with income > $100k.

Read the entire case study here.  To learn how NCS data can power your next campaign, please contact us.

Continuous Media Optimization

If you plan or buy media, you live and die by each campaign’s success. And there’s no greater measure of that success than return on ad spend. Understanding the most effective elements of precision marketing enables agencies and brands to leverage insights discovered from previous campaigns. NCS provides a unique set of product offerings to continuously optimize all phases of the buying and planning process, from targeting/audience segmentation to In-Flight optimization and retro-active campaign measurement.

Critical to continuous media optimization is the identification of customers who are most receptive to your advertising and message—those viewers who actually purchase the product as a result of viewing your advertising. Targeting this group with your next campaign will raise your return on ad spend.

NCS can provide these capabilities to help achieve the goals of both the agency and advertiser:

1) Target Evaluator

  • What: NCS will articulate the dollars potentially influenced by TV ads when you select programs based on buyers or sales volume of product.
  • Application: Allocating media dollars and subsequently reaching your target audience is priority number one. NCS can help you understand the value of various consumer buyer definitions, and target media based on purchase behavior and campaign goals (i.e. drive trial, conquest competition, retain loyals, etc).

2) AdVantics on Demand™

  • What: Choose the right program element without shrinking your GRPs to reach the most buyers or sales volume.
  • Application: Similar to Target Evaluator, AdVantics On Demand goes one level deeper in television. Instead of just finding buyers, TV planning is opened up by applying audience buying behavior to adjustable elements such as programs and dayparts, while maintaining your gross rating points. In turn, agencies can use the advertiser’s budget more efficiently.

3) Audience AdVantics Targeting

  • What: Integrating offline purchase data with 90%+ of the reachable ad impression via portals, publishers, ad networks, and programmatic technology partners.
  • Application: In the digital and mobile realm, it is imperative to identify the optimal channels to launch and measure your campaign. NCS provides agencies with 15+ channel partners that are powered with NCS data, including Yahoo!, AOL, Google and more.

4) In-Flight

  • What: Optimize creative, placement & delivery based on what drives the greatest incremental life throughout the campaign.
  • Application: If a campaign is not delivering or meeting impression/sales expectations after four weeks, it’s time to switch it up – in real time. In-Flight enables agencies to change multiple campaign elements to reach any specific campaign goal, uncovering insights to share with the advertiser’s brand.

5) Sales Effect

  • What: A precise and complete picture of incremental sales in response to your media campaign, broken down by buyer type, executional element and more.
  • Application: Traditionally measured by impressions, ultimate success at NCS can be translated into incremental retail sales dollars. Agencies can utilize figures that chart ROAS and CPMs across historical norms and benchmarks. Furthermore, they can apply lessons of the sales effect study to future campaigns to ensure success.

See how NCS drives results here.

Drink Up These Refreshing Results From Michelle Obama’s Initiative For A Healthier America

Can a health and wellness campaign promoting good ol’ H20 make a splash with today’s sugar-shocked families? That was the million dollar question that Michelle Obama sought to answer with the help of Nielsen Catalina Solutions.

The First Lady and the Partnership For a Healthier America (PHA) launched the “Drink Up” campaign in late 2013 to highlight the benefits of water as a replacement and supplement in Americans’ daily nutrition plans. A noble cause, to be sure… but how do you measure the impact of a campaign aimed at marketing the consumption of water?

To solve for this, the First Lady’s campaign tapped NCS to study the change in bottled water purchase habits over a period of time that directly corresponds to their “Drink Up” campaign. Choosing bottled water sales as a key performance indicator (KPI), the First Lady sought to prove that the careful and strategic marketing of healthy food and drink alternatives could have a positive impact on our society’s healthy eating habits.

So, was Michelle Obama’s theory correct? An incremental lift of $1MM in bottled water sales over the measured timeframe proves that she is right: employing thoughtful and strategic marketing campaigns for healthy choices can impact the way we consume food and drink as a society.  We’ll drink to that, America.

Soak in the methodology and measurements from NCS below, then contact us to find out we can help you make waves with your next CPG campaign.