Home IMJ Features The Science Behind Estimating Ad Spend – Accurately

The Science Behind Estimating Ad Spend – Accurately

Elisa Daly explains the science behind creating reliable advertising spend estimates.

Transparency is a buzz word that permeates conversations in the Irish advertising industry today. Consumers now have access to content across more platforms than ever before. Campaign planning has become a far more challenging task – how can advertisers, agencies and media owners benchmark themselves within the industry and understand the positioning of competitive products and services?

Our clients tell us access to ad spend data granularity (depth) and coverage of key advertisers (breadth) enables them to plan in a way that differentiates their media plans from those of their competitors. As a market leader in research, Nielsen is faced with an increasing duty to meet the demands of our clients to increase spend representation to enable clients to maximise the impact of their ad campaign schedules.

What Does Ad Intel Offer?

Our powerful media monitoring analysis tools, coupled with rich data sets, provides one of the most robust sources of insights available within our native market.

Our future-focused service leverages competitive advertising intelligence to ensure that our clients are one step ahead of their competition! The Ad Intel service provides the ability to track competitor activity and market trends across the vast media landscape in Ireland. Given that the data is updated across all media on a monthly basis, with TV, press and new digital data updated daily, clients are working with fresh and relevant information for campaign planning.

Aidan O’Dwyer, sales & marketing director of Journal Media says “Nielsen’s Ad Intel service has been an integral part of our commercial function since our early days in the marketplace. As we have grown, the service has proved to be a powerful tool allowing us to closely analyse media activity, monitor relevant sectoral trends and identify key opportunities on an ongoing basis.”

The Nielsen Ad Intel service has played a fundamental role in the daily operations of our clients in Ireland now for over a decade and will continue to grow alongside the needs of our clients.

Who are the Beneficiaries?

Ad agencies and advertisers incorporate the Ad Intel data to ensure the allocation of the best marketing mix during the planning stages. Media owners across all media channels are utilising the platform as a selling tool. This is essential to the optimisation of media plans and the success of advertising performance.

Key Benefits

The Ad Intel service provides a comprehensive source of competitive advertising activity within the media landscape. Advertising spend is tracked down to a company, category and granular brand level. An added feature of the service is the ability to set-up automated email alerts to flag new creatives entering the advertising arena, which further enhances the visibility of advertiser activity. Creatives are available across TV, Press, Outdoor and more recently Digital within our new Digital data set. The ability to filter by categories of interest or client competitor set provides instant actionable data to users.

Nick Fletcher, director of media insight at Core Media says “The Ad Intel service is an integral part of daily research in Core. The granularity of data it offers and the fact that it is independent, gold standard research means it is an essential part of our strategic planning offering. The client team are always available to provide guidance and they constantly ensure the service is relevant and of the highest standards”.

The Digital ad spend data is supplemented by a new service launched in October 2017, allowing a more in-depth view of the digital environment. This new data won’t replace the existing Digital ad spend, but deepens the transparency of digital activity. The unique ad-path technology traces the entire journey a digital ad takes to appear on a website. Deeper brand level detail is available including a view of the all-important programmatic trends.

Ongoing Collaborative Market Relations

Stakeholder relationships are of utmost importance to Nielsen. Providing relevant data and software that meets market expectations is always at the forefront of our priorities. We work with our clients to maintain a constant dialogue that allows market leaders to feed directly into the data as it evolves continually to meet the high demands of our native market. A Crowded and Complex Advertising Industry Nielsen Ad Intel facilitates the navigation of the crowded and complex advertising marketplace and provides actionable competitive intelligence. Clients can access the most comprehensive and accurate source of cross-platform advertising intelligence available. This intelligence helps our clients to identify viable prospects, analyse in-house and competitive brand strategies, learn from the (and the competition’s) past and plan for the future. The service as a whole provides advanced reporting designed for deep data analysis with granularity of categories, advertiser and brands available.

Scope of Service & Improvements

The Nielsen Ad Intel service seeks to provide granular, relevant & useful data for analysis of advertising activity.

Major improvements to the service in the last four years include:

  • Reporting on digital ad spend for the 1st time in the Irish market from Oct ‘14;
  • Expansion of Outdoor, capturing and identifying New format Targeted Media from Jan ‘15;
  • Substantial improvements to Radio, increasing coverage from 12 to 36 stations from Jan ‘16.

Future planned improvements within the next 12 months include:

  • Ad spend re-calibration of All Media to better reflect share of media type;
  • Transition to a new and improved user interface which began late September 2018 The four Pillars of the New Ad Intel UI:


  • Millions of rows in seconds;
  • Add as many columns as you need;
  • Run multiple reports with one click;
  • Export to more formats including CSV and XML.


  • Create powerful and flexible calculations;
  • One module, all media types;
  • All dimensions, creative and spend in one tool;
  • Add charts to better visualise your data.


  • Connect our data to your system using URL links;
  • Scheduled reports delivered where you need them;
  • Export data to FTP to load into your systems;
  • Connect to your BI/CRM tools such as Tableau or Salesforce.


  • Group any item in the tool to create (or import) your market view;
  • Create (or import) custom dayparts, time periods, discount factors and exchange rates;
  • Export data in the structure and format you need it.

The Nielsen Ad Intel service launched this NEW UI in response to market calls to facilitate further granulated figures in advertising investment data. Our service is future-focused and the capabilities found within our new tool provide evidence that Nielsen is responding to global industry demands.

Elisa Daly is ad intel lead at Nielsen.

First published in Irish Marketing Journal (IMJ September 2018)© to order back issues please call 016611660

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