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‘Always on’ modernizes digital measurement with deduplicated comparability

3 minute read | November 2022

In early 2021, Nielsen debuted the ‘always on’ capability within its Digital Ad Ratings (DAR) product, a significant advancement in digital media measurement—one that represents a major step toward true comparability across digital and linear media.

To see the value of this advancement, it’s critical to understand how it elevates traditional digital measurement. Historically, marketers have used products that tell them whether someone viewed or clicked an ad or content—either online or in an email. And most digital measurement needs to be enabled at the individual campaign level.

This type of measurement met the needs of marketers in web 1.0, but it can’t provide the comparability that advertisers and agencies need in an era where multiple device usage is rampant and connected TV (CTV) adoption is becoming ubiquitous with audiences.

Amid the many ways in which audiences spend their time online, streaming remains a stand-out, and it continues to gain momentum. In September, for example, streaming—in all of its varieties—accounted for 36.9% of audiences’ total TV time1. And with market research company Insider Intelligence forecasting that CTV spend will total $18.9 billion this year, advertisers and agencies need digital campaign measurement that’s continuous, comparable and automatic.

Understanding “always on” measurement

Unlike point-in-time measurement that requires individual campaign enablement, always on DAR provides continuous measurement of ads across computers, mobile devices and connected devices. In addition to providing brands and agencies with significantly more impressions data for real-time campaign evaluation, the continuous measurement aspect of always on DAR closely mirrors how linear TV is measured, providing a major coverage and comparability bridge for holistic, deduplicated cross-channel measurement.

This comparability couldn’t come at a better time. That’s because the future of media measurement needs to focus on the audience, not platforms or devices. This is especially true when the lines between different media offerings are constantly blurring.

For example, consider YouTube. YouTube is also growing its footprint in the streaming video space. In fact, YouTube (including YouTube TV) accounted for a platform-record 8% of total TV usage in September 2022 and the largest percentage among streaming providers. This share of TV time represents year-over-year usage growth of nearly 40%1.

For many advertisers and agencies, YouTube is a meaningful channel in their media mix planning. From a granular data and management perspective, the recent enablement of always on DAR within YouTube provides advertisers and agencies with expanded visibility into campaign performance to mirror the continuous measurement of  TV measurement. Consequently, they simply need to enable the functionality one time for their YouTube campaigns to begin benefitting from true cross-channel comparability within one of the market’s leading and largest ad-supported platforms.

But always on DAR isn’t just beneficial for advertisers and agencies. In a media environment that’s constantly expanding, publishers need robust, accurate and real-time data to showcase the value that their properties are delivering. With increased impressions data, publishers can better deliver ads to intended audiences, understand reach and manage frequency, and gain insight into the audience that each unique property is delivering.

In an environment where the lines between linear and digital are quickly merging, measurement comparability is paramount. Device and platform fragmentation notwithstanding, the audience is everything in today’s media market, and that’s where brands, agencies and publishers should be focusing their attention.

Learn how to activate always on measurement in YouTube with Nielsen Digital Ad Ratings.


  1. The Gauge, September 2022 usage data

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