Consumer research firm Nielsen is attempting to bolster its reporting capabilities in the online advertising sector with the purchase of Vizu, a technology company that enables advertisers and publishers to assess and optimize online advertising effectiveness. Nielsen says the acquisition will build on its existing online and cross-platform advertising campaign measurement solutions.

Nielsen will integrate Vizu’s tools, which include an enterprise technology platform for measuring and optimizing online advertising brand lift metrics and solutions for audience characterization and campaign measurement that can be deployed on the platform or stand-alone, into its product portfolio.

Vizu functionality will be rolled into the Nielsen Brand Effect suite, which Nielsen says will allow reporting of online advertising performance broken out by media plan participant, frequency of ad exposure, advertising execution and targeting strategy.

Online Video Ads Receive 10 billion US Views

To get a sense of how important online advertising is becoming, let’s take a look at the May 2012 comScore figures on the performance of online video ads (just one subset of online advertising as a whole) in the US. According to comScore, Americans viewed a record-breaking 10 billion online video ads that month, for a total of more than 4.5 billion ad minutes. The average online viewer watched almost 64 ads, and online ads reached about 52 percent of the total US population.

Nielsen Builds Online Advertising Arsenal

No doubt encouraged by findings such as those released by comScore, Nielsen has been slowly but surely strengthening its offerings in the online advertising space for the past year. In August 2011, the company enabled clients to measure online display advertising using Facebook data and TV-style reporting through Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings, which debuted in beta form in February 2011. The system combines data from Nielsen’s panels of TV viewers and online users with exclusive access to Facebook’s database of users.

As reported at the time by CMSWire, the aim of Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings isn’t to just provide another means for measuring online consumer behavior, but to shift focus away from clicks and page views to a more holistic view that attempts to capture a broader, yet more focused view of the consumer, by tracking more than just their online behaviors.

Nielsen’s latest addition to its online advertising offering is another example of how the research firm is trying to provide more than simple tallies of page views, which only give a glimpse into viewer behavior and motivation. By integrating Vizu’s brand lift and audience metrics reporting capabilities, Nielsen greatly enhances the value of its online advertising research product as the value of online ads themselves continues to grow.