Nielsen VideoCensus Debuts

While some advertisers continue to grumble about Nielsen Media Research’s problems in delivering accurate television measurement ratings, Nielsen made headlines when it released the first results from its VideoCensus online video measurement service last week.

As online advertising gains steam, Nielsen is expanding its audience measurement systems to include Internet and mobile applications. Nielsen’s goal is to measure all kinds of video consumption, be it on the TV screen, computer screen, or on the iPod. It won’t be easy, but advertisers want to know what people are watching, when they are watching it, and on what medium they are watching.

Also complicating the issue is the fact that Nielsen has been taking heat from some corners of the industry for problems associated with its core TV audience measurement systems. And some clients are concerned that the intensified focus on these new measurement systems is taking resources and emphasis from its core TV measurement processes.

One advertising client told MediaDailyNews earlier this month that Nielsen has had problems with late delivery and shoddy service and wondered whether the company was going to be able to successfully pull off its A2/M2 (anytime/anywhere media measurement initiative) plans.

But other industry experts are excited about what Nielsen is doing with its online initiatives. In a prepared statement, Turner Broadcasting System chief research officer Jack Wakshlag said VideoCensus measurement techniques finally quell the debate about the accuracy of the volume of TBS videos being watched online.

MTV Networks executive vice president of research Colleen Fahey Rush agreed. “As a leading provider of Internet video, it's imperative that MTV Networks has accurate tracking and reporting of streaming volume across our sites,” she said. “Products like Nielsen Online's VideoCensus are essential in helping us meet that need, and capture the full value of our vast online library."

Statistics from the initial results show that men and women apparently consume video content very differently and that there is a new primetime online. That could result in crucial information for networks, advertisers and employers. Video streams on broadcast network TV Web sites were nearly two times more likely to be viewed by women age 18-34 than men. Men, however, were two and a half times more likely than women to view any one of the consumer-generated Web sites.

Nielsen Online reported that streaming activity at the top network TV Web sites spiked during the weekday lunchtime hours of 12 p.m.-2 p.m. At consumer-generated media Web sites, the most popular time for viewing was during late night hours on the weekend, between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Nielsen is moving ahead with its A2/M2 initiative and recently added to its arsenal of measurement capabilities by making a strategic investment in NeuroFocus, a company that specializes in applying brainwave research to advertising, programming and messaging. Nielsen originally planned to integrate its TV and online measurements in October 2006 when it purchased NetRatings. But the programs have been more difficult to roll out than originally thought. Nielsen has created a fused database integrating its traditional TV ratings with Nielsen/NetRatings' online audience estimates.