SYDNEY: Marketers in Australia have a new digital measurement tool at their disposal after the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Australia and research firm Nielsen released a new Digital Ratings (Monthly) system.

The new cross-device measurement solution fuses together Nielsen's existing data for home and work desktops with information about Australian smartphone and tablet usage, as well as census tagged data for PC and the mobile web.

IAB CEO Alice Manners described the new system as the most significant and important change to Australia's IAB-endorsed digital measurement currency since Nielsen Online Ratings were introduced in 2011.

"Once again Australia leads the world in audience measurement, reflecting the sophistication and maturity of this market. I'd like to thank the industry for coming together and supporting this initiative with IAB," she said.

Monique Perry, head of media at Nielsen, also suggested this was a significant moment for the Australian advertising industry.

"This will be the holy grail of digital total audience measurement. It will see the Australian market transition to daily delivery of digital audience data, across sites big and small," she said.

Turning to the details, the new Digital Ratings (Monthly) revealed that close to 19.6m Australians accessed digital content across computers, smartphones and tablets in February 2016.

"We also see a significant increase in total time online per person from 32 hours to 49 hours," added Perry. "During February 2016, Australians spent more than 28 hours just on their smartphone, higher than any other digital device."

The Nielsen data also showed that, while computers remained the device of choice for around 18m Australians in February, more than 13m used smartphones to actively browse websites and apps, while 7.5m did so on tablets.

And in terms of the three most popular websites in Australia, Google came out on top with an active reach of 92.4%, followed by Facebook (78.7%) and YouTube (71.2%).

Elsewhere, the photography category saw the largest increase in audience as a result of Nielsen fusing its data, more than doubling its size thanks to the widespread adoption of apps, such as Google Photo and Samsung Photo Editor. The travel, special occasions and automotive categories also saw significant increases.

Data sourced from IAB Australia, Nielsen; additional content by Warc staff