Nielsen, Roku Strike OTT Audience Measurement Deal

Nielsen and Roku announced a strategic deal Thursday that enables Nielsen to measure video advertising delivered in over-the-top video piped to Roku streaming players and Roku-powered smart TVs.

The agreement, timed with this week’s Newfronts, marks an important step in addressing Nielsen’s need to expand audience measurement to the digital domain and to OTT devices that support ad-based TV shows and other video content. As a first step, Nielsen and Roku will enable OTT measurement through Nielsen Digital Ad Ratings. Publishers who sign on will have the ability to measure their audience according to Nielsen demographics and Digital Ad Ratings to measure, guarantee and report campaign audience delivery through the Roku platform.

Nielsen and Roku did not announce all of the programmers that intend to take part in the program, but CBS All Access and CBSN are among those that are getting behind it.

Roku said about half of the 250 most-watched channels on the Roku platform are currently delivering ad-supported content. Roku, which has shipped north of 10 million devices in the U.S., has also become a popular destination for authenticated TV Everywhere apps from programmers as well as MVPDs such as Time Warner Cable, and with more pure-play OTT services that include Crackle, Hulu and Sling TV.

Nielsen and Roku said the agreement will enable ad campaigns to be measured on Roku’s digital platform using the same techniques that are applied to traditional TV.

“We know the marketplace is demanding measurement,” said David Wong, senior vice president of product leadership at Nielsen.

Nielsen measurement on the Roku platform is expected to begin this summer under a beta program and scale toward general availability toward the end of 2015, according to Scott Rosenberg, Roku’s vice president of advertising.

“It’s just around the corner,” he said, noting that the capability, which includes the application of ad tags in the Roku OS and software developer kit, will be available across the Roku device universe all at once. That, Rosenberg added, will eliminate the problem of requiring publishers to light up those capabilities on their own, in one-off fashion.

Rosenberg said Roku and Nielsen have been in discussions with “premium” ad-supported publishers over the last three to four months, noting that the biggest initial beneficiaries are expected to be programmers that run TVE apps as well as “pure-play OTT offerings.” 

More detail will be shared this year, but for now, “we’re letting the marketplace know that we’re embarking on this work,” Wong said. “Nielsen is making a big commitment this year to invest in and create OTT measurement solutions…we see this as a very important first step.”

The Nielsen component will be part of a broader Roku offering called Roku Audience Solutions, which was also launched on Thursday.

Roku Audience Solutions, the company said, will help its channel publishers sell their video advertising more effectively using a new toolkit that is built into the SDK used by Roku publishers to launch streaming channels. The framework features IAB VAST processing, Innovid iRoll interactivity, and a new Roku ID for advertisers, Roku said.

“Roku’s move to bring advanced advertising measurement and delivery technologies to its platform is an important step in the progression of digital video distribution," Marc DeBevoise, EVP and GM, Entertainment, Sports and News, CBS Interactive, said in a statement. “We’ve had great success on the Roku platform and will participate in the roll-out of these technologies across our Roku Channels - including CBS All Access and CBSN - to improve measurement and delivery of both our own content and that of our advertisers.”