Facebook and Nielsen announced this morning the two companies would team up to better measure the viewer impressions of on line social networks advertisements.
Under a program called "Nielsen Brand Lift", Facebook will randomly poll its users to see if they noticed a particular banner ad. The company will then pass that data on to Nielsen, which will inform advertisers.
Generally, advertisers prefer keyword search ads like Google provides because their effectiveness can be proven: If you click the ad, the advertiser knows you saw it and were compelled to take action.
Most banner ads are never clicked. That doesn't mean that the ad did not inform or influence the viewer, of course, but the advertiser has no way of knowing for certain one way or the other.
The Facebook/Nielsen program intends to solve that. Facebook could of course conduct the study alone, but company COO Sheryl Sandberg tells the Wall Street Journal: "It can't just be you who proves it. It has to be a third party."
"Media analyst Shelly Palmer, though, wonders what would happen if Facebook's study shows the banner ads are NOT effective. "That's going to be an interesting report [to advertisers]."
The two companies say the joint program will be used with other on line properties as well.