Nielsen Calls Elite Client Pow-Wow To Pitch Online Measurement Wares

Nielsen on Thursday contacted 75 of its clients ranging from top advertisers, agencies and media companies to ask them to an October 16 meeting to discuss how to proceed in a possible melding of TV and online audiences, according to a letter obtained by B&C.

The letter, penned by Sara Erichson, Nielsen president, media client services, North America, invites clients to “a special client meeting in New York City to discuss ‘TV Everywhere’, ‘OnDemand Online’ and similar initiatives and their implications for television audience measurement.”  Erichson notes “these initiatives are very compatible with Nielsen’s television ratings system; that is, audiences viewing television programs online could be included in Nielsen’s national TV ratings, including C3.”

The letter says the purpose of the meeting is to “discuss the work that Nielsen is doing to develop the capability to measure online video viewing in the National People Meter panel and to share our thoughts on potentially aligning that effort with these industry developments. Most importantly, the purpose of this meeting is to get your feedback and input on these plans.”

The event will take place at the Harvard Club of New York City on Friday, October 16, starting at 2.00 p.m. A spokesman for Nielsen confirmed that the letter was sent.

Nielsen is hoping to thrash out myriad issues surrounding growing online viewing at the special confab. The company hopes to begin a process which could ultimately change the future of TV ratings and industry currency.

Nielsen will outline its own plans but wants to throw open the doors so clients ranging from Procter & Gamble to Time Warner to media agencies can discuss their varying needs as online viewing grows.

Much of the industry has signaled an interest in moving to a single-source measurement system whereby a client would be able to track both TV and online video viewing of an individual and receive a single figure covering both activities.

Nielsen is expecting invitees to discuss their needs and help shape what is likely to launch a debate about a new currency for measuring video viewing in whatever form it takes place. The discussion is reminiscent of the transition to commercial ratings back in 2006.

Of course, Nielsen isn’t the only outfit attempting to answer such tricky questions.  Fourteen founder members of the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement (CIMM) which include a slew of major industry players from NBC Universal to CBS Corp., are seeking ideas from a wide range of measurement services with the aim of finding the most effective solutions for moving the industry forward. The group is expected to issue request for proposals (RFPs) in the coming weeks.

The October 8 Nielsen letter reflects Nielsen’s interest in pushing the ball down the court a little more aggressively. The company hopes to have a period of evaluation before fully implementing its plans to include internet viewing as part of its TV sample. The letter attempts to assure clients while no-one knows for sure which business models for online video will emerge as the most successful, Nielsen will be prepared to measure audiences no matter that outcome.