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Any Way You Watch It: Nielsen to Incorporate Mobile Viewing into TV Ratings and Dynamic Digital Ratings

2 minute read | October 2013

We can all agree that consumers have embraced a new age of viewing video content lock, stock and barrel. From traditional content offered by TV broadcasters to native content from digital publishers, technological advancements mean consumers now have myriad options to watch what, when and how they want.

Industry breakthroughs like multi-room DVRs, Internet-connected TVs, tablets, smart phones and even in-browser and app content players deliver more choices and flexibility than ever before. They’ve also led to audience fragmentation and marketplace challenges regarding how to properly value and monetize video content.

For the past several months, Nielsen has been sharing with clients and industry leaders how it plans to incorporate audiences viewing TV content on digital devices into traditional TV measurement for the 2014-15 TV season. Today, this effort took a big step forward as Nielsen confirmed to clients that it will make the software developer kit (SDK) that enables this measurement available for implementation in mid-November.

“We’ve been working hard to deliver this new SDK and are excited to be able to deliver a single client solution that supports both the linear (TV style) and dynamic (Internet style) ad models,” said Megan Clarken, EVP, Global Product Leader, Nielsen. “This unified encoding approach for video enables measurement to follow content across screens and ad models.”

This unified encoding approach for video enables measurement to follow content across screens and ad models. For example, if a broadcaster makes a TV show available for viewing on a digital device and it meets the ad load and timeline requirements for TV ratings, then that viewing will credit to the Nielsen TV ratings. If that content is not eligible for TV ratings—due to elapsed crediting time, dynamic ad insertion or because it originated from the Web itself—then the viewing of it will be included in Nielsen Digital Ratings, specifically Nielsen Digital Program Ratings for content ratings and Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings™ for the ad rating.

The best part about this approach is that the patent-pending Nielsen technology behind the SDK will know where to credit the viewing, because it will analyze the audio watermarks, metadata or tags associated with the content and related advertising.


In order to capture the breadth required to measure mobile viewing, we’ll use big data and a census-style measurement approach that matches demographic information in a privacy safe way via data providers, such as Facebook, and is calibrated with Nielsen’s National People Meter panel.

This revolution in viewing measurement mirrors the innovation we’ve seen in technology. Not only does it seize the spirit of how consumers are putting that technology to use, but it also keeps the different kinds of viewer in mind. And the real benefit therein is that it accurately reflects the viewer best reached by the traditional TV ad model while enabling a comparable metric to reach and measure digital viewers as well.

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