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Multi-Channel Marketing: Ratings Giants Tackle Measurement in a Cross-Platform World

March 9th, 2016   ||    by Monta Monaco Hernon

With the growing popularity of TV Everywhere, video on demand (VOD), and digital streaming, there are more advertising opportunities than ever. Programmatic technology can simplify multi-channel marketing by utilizing data-driven analytics to determine the best outlets for reaching a desired audience and automating the workflow, which has traditionally been a cumbersome ordering process.

But what about measurement? Advertisers need to quantify media consumption in order to justify their marketing strategy and formulate a cost basis. Data traditionally only took into account viewing of television programs when originally aired on the actual television. Other methods of tracking have addressed the advent of the DVR and VOD as well as the more recent addition of streaming to other devices, but all have remained in separate silos. In this increasingly cross-platform world, however, true and accurate measurement needs to reflect the total audience across all of these platforms. To stay relevant, therefore, rating and measurement companies like ComScore, Rentrak, and Nielsen are making moves to address viewing across screens.

“Video is where all the growth is going to come in the future. That’s where Nielsen is focusing all our efforts…measuring video regardless of how it is consumed, how it is distributed, how it is monetized and (doing) this consistently with a comparable methodology,” David Wong, SVP, product leadership, Nielsen, told Beet.TV in an interview at IAB.

Nielsen’s Numbers

With this goal, Nielsen has launched Total Audience Measurement to do exactly what the name implies: measure viewership across multiple screens. While the company has incorporated DVR viewing in its ratings since about 2006, they couldn’t include anything watched outside of a seven-day window, due to rules set in place at that time. Total Audience Measurement, however, will not be limited to these restrictions. It will include not only linear TV, DVR, and VOD, but also content viewed on tablets, mobile devices, PCs, and connected TV, according to Adweek.

Big data will be combined with Nielsen’s traditional national panel, which is being expanded from 20,000 to 40,000 households with an estimated 100,000 viewers. Specifically, related to the census measurement, Nielsen will put a software development kit on apps and media players, which will alert it when any machine accesses content. Device IDs are matched blindly to a Facebook ID in order to determine factors such as age and gender, a separate Adweek article explains.

Nielsen will still use metrics advertisers are used to, including average minute audience, minutes viewed, frequency, and gross ratings point (1 GRP equals 1 percent of TV households). While the time it takes to release the ratings will stay the same for now, Nielsen says it wants to evolve toward rolling ratings. If a client wants to measure eight days of viewing (C8), they can get the ratings on day nine, says Adweek.

Nielsen’s Total Audience Measurement is expected to roll out by the end of first quarter.

Merger for Measurement

For their part, ComScore and Rentrak recently joined forces, thus combining the former’s expertise in measuring web activity with the latter’s capabilities in measuring VOD, box-office and set-top data. According to Variety, the combined entity will track 260 million desktop screens, 160 million mobile phones, 95 million tablets, 40 million televisions, 120 million VOD screens, and 40,000 movie theater screens. The companies say they want to have a measurement solution in time to make a difference during this year’s upfront sales.

Cable networks, particularly those like MTV and Comedy Central that appeal to younger generations, have seen ratings drop due, at least in part, to the outdated system of measurement. Phillipe Dauman, chief executive of Viacom, says he expects advertising revenue to rise “significantly” once deals can be based on ratings that account for viewership across platforms, Variety notes.

Evidence supporting this comes from early testing of Total Audience Measurement. Nielsen found that for a specific broadcast show, which aired in September, 45 percent of its audience watched it live, 32 percent watched via DVR within seven says, 2 percent saw it using a DVR between eight and 35 days, 7 percent watched on demand within 35 days, 6 percent used a connected TV device, and 8 percent streamed it via another device.

Although the technology utilizes data-driven analytics to place ads, advertisers still need metrics to determine the success of a campaign. Moving towards a common measurement system will facilitate this.

For more information on the future of measurement and how it relates to programmatic, contact Videa.

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