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Facebook, Nielsen to partner on ad stats

An announcement in New York on Tuesday will unveil a program called "Brand Lift," which aims to put a number on the effectiveness of advertisements on Facebook.

Update Tuesday 4:14 a.m. PDT: Facebook and Nielsen have officially announced their multiyear deal.

As part of the Advertising Week festivities in New York, Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg is slated to make a marketing-related announcement on Tuesday morning.

The announcement of a partnership with Nielsen on a product called "BrandLift," which polls Facebook users on ads they see on the social network, was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

There weren't a whole lot of details disclosed, even when the two companies confirmed the news of "a multi-year, strategic alliance" later on Monday. Nielsen BrandLift, a release explained, is the first product created from the deal. It will use opt-in polls on Facebook's home page to gauge user sentiment around advertisements, measuring "aided awareness, ad recall, message association, brand favorability, and purchase consideration." It'll roll out in the U.S. to a number of test partners this week and to all advertisers over the next few months. There will be "hundreds" of BrandLift tests in that time, the release explained.

An end date to the multi-year deal has not been disclosed, Nielsen Online CEO John Burbank told CNET News on Monday evening.

For now, Nielsen BrandLift is part of its partnership with Facebook. But the product "will expand to other websites" eventually, Burbank said. He wouldn't comment on repeated rumors that Facebook would be launching an ad network for sites participating in its Facebook Connect program.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based Facebook has a history of big New York marketing pushes to further establish itself as a major player on Madison Avenue. Earlier this year, Sandberg keynoted the AdAge Digital conference to pitch Facebook's "active network" of friend connections as a powerful advertising tool, and two years ago Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled the social network's first major advertising initiative shortly after Microsoft had taken a $240 million stake in the company.

(Part of that 2007 announcement included Beacon, the ill-fated advertising program that Facebook finally put the kibosh on this week.)

Getting statistics on advertising effectiveness is important for Facebook, especially with a longtime industry player like Nielsen on board. While Facebook has been growing in prominence as a digital ad destination, it's still had to do some convincing to combat the industry attitude that social-media advertising doesn't work.

Also sure to be mentioned at Tuesday's announcement? The fact that Facebook has recently hit 300 million active users around the world and continues to grow fast. That's a lot of eyeballs.

Nielsen's own measurements of Facebook traffic place the social network as the fourth largest unique audience in the U.S. (and remember, most of its traffic is now overseas), and that out of all Web-based brands it enjoys the most individual time spent per user.

This post was expanded at 7:33 p.m. PT.