Nielsen To Monitor Online Video Usage

Addressing an issue that has sparked copyright lawsuits, Nielsen next year will launch a service to track and police the use of videos online, the company said Wednesday.

The new service, called Nielsen Digital Media Manager, will allow media companies, social networks, peer-to-peer services and user-generated content sites to monitor and manage the distribution of media content across the Internet, according to Nielsen.

Nielsen and its partner in the new endeavor, Digimarc Corp., which will use digital watermarking and fingerprinting to try to address the issue of copyright security and to assure copyright compliance.

Media giants such as Viacom have raged against the posting of its TV programming online, with the conglomerate filing a $1 billion copyright-infringement lawsuit against Google earlier this year.

Pitching the new Digital Media Manager service, Nielsen claims that by providing a more reliable way to track content, clients can fully realize the value of their digital content, promote the expansion of Internet-distributed media and facilitate a number of revenue streams, including ad-pairing, e-commerce, royalty reporting and others.

Nielsen already uses digital watermarking to encode 95% of national TV programming for its TV ratings service, and the new service will focus initially on the online distribution of TV content in the United States.

Nielsen and Digimarc expect to make Digital Media Manager available in mid-2008.

Both companies also plan to work with the media industry to digitally watermark DVDs, movies, music, video games and other content in subsequent phases of the rollout of the new media identification and management services.

Nielsen and Digimarc will work together to develop this service and each will contribute intellectual property and technological expertise. Digimarc is licensing digital watermarking patents from its extensive patent portfolio to Nielsen for these new solutions and providing development support.

 The new service will build on Nielsen’s expertise in digital watermarking and fingerprinting technologies and its network and systems infrastructure.

“We believe these services will stimulate the growth of online video distribution, to the benefit of consumers, content providers and distributors,” Nielsen chairman and CEO  David Calhoun said in a statement.

“Until now, the lack of an independent, industry-accepted identification and tracking service has limited the transactions that allow the delivery of media content over the Internet,” he said. “Now with our new media identification and management services unique ability to identify content throughout the Internet, both content providers and distributors can protect and monetize the value of online media.” 

Nielsen contends that with its new service, content owners can try to leverage the popularity of new-media distribution channels by identifying what content is being shared, viewed, mashed up or accessed. Armed with that data, content owners can make meaningful decisions on what content to allow or disallow on such sites, according to Nielsen. At the same time, they can decide where and how to distribute content while developing new revenue streams, and how to measure the effectiveness of associated marketing campaigns.

In addition, content distributors -- including social networks, user-generated content site operators and aggregators -- can ensure the legitimacy of content shared on their sites. This will enable them to establish new business relationships with the content community, and explore new sources of revenue by extending the reach of advertising and other value-add applications.