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MBPT Spotlight: Clients -- Measured Reaction To Nielsen-Arbitron Deal -- Access to cross-platform know-how seen as offsetting lack of competition | @jlafayette

While Nielsen’s $1.3 billion acquisition of Arbitron eliminates a
rival, some of Nielsen’s TV network and media buying clients say the deal could lead to improvements
in media measurement.

After making some concessions
to satisfy regulators,
Nielsen last week sealed the
deal, saying that adding Arbitron
and its personal people meter
technology will allow it to measure
media consumption it hasn’t
been able to capture before and provide advertisers
a better sense of how multiplatform
campaigns perform. That might turn out to be
true, but some Nielsen clients who have heard
it all before have some reservations.

“I like competition. So further consolidation
I don’t think helps anybody,” says Lyle
Schwartz, managing partner and director of
research & marketplace analysis
at media agency GroupM.
“Competition breeds improvement.
I think competition helps
clients, but it is what it is.”

Nevertheless, Schwartz agrees
that in acquiring Arbitron, Nielsen
gets the only other panel-based
researcher in the industry, and it’s
learned a lot about multiplatform measurement
in its work on the cross-platform measurement
initiative Project Blueprint. “I think there’s a lot
of intellectual property there,” Schwartz adds.

Nielsen worked with Arbitron on a project
for Turner Broadcasting designed to add
out-of-home viewership registered by Arbitron’s
personal people meters to Nielsen’s inhome
ratings numbers. Turner calls it CNN
All Screen, and has used it to measure sports
telecasts as well as news.

While much of the talk in the research community
is about measuring viewing on tablets
and mobile phones, the biggest source of unmeasured
viewing is out-of-home, says Jack
Wakshlag, Turner chief research officer. The
combined measurement found a significant and
substantial lift in impressions. CNN has managed
to convince some clients to buy advertising
based on the CNN All Screen numbers.

Arbitron’s PPM might not produce TV ratings
now, but it’s good enough to produce
a metric used as currency in radio. “I think
the marketplace will be enthusiastic about it
because it’s using currency-based technologies,”
Wakshlag says.

Now that Nielsen owns Arbitron, Wakshlag
hopes it will be more enthusiastic about
All Screen. “With one company managing
and running this, now Nielsen has the incentive
to make this a more robust offering that
other companies could buy,” adds Wakshlag,
who thinks the product would be more attractive
under the Nielsen name than as a
Turner product.

Arbitron also worked on Project Blueprint
with comScore and ESPN. The government
demanded that Nielsen license the technology
to a third party. ESPN had no comment on
the effects of the merger on Project Blueprint.

New Tools

Jed Meyer, U.S. research director of Omnicom
Media Group’s Annalect analytics unit,
says Nielsen acquiring Arbitron “has the potential
to be a step in the right direction” because it
gets the PPMs to add to its measurement tools,
and because Arbitron has several cross-media
initiatives in the works that could benefit clients.

“My hope is that in addition to the
new and improved products and innovations
that they may bring to market,
I’d also hope that they would be investing
in their core product as well because
so much of the business is still transacted
on the core TV ratings and the core national
people meter sample,” says Meyer, who was
a Nielsen executive for many years.

And while the merger may reduce competition
in TV measurement in the immediate
term, “the landscape is so complicated that
there are new technologies around the corner
all the time, and my hope is those help even
out the playing field,” Meyer says.