Nielsen: We’ll Measure TV Everywhere

Long criticized for failing to keep up with technology, Nielsen Media Research Wednesday unveiled an ambitious plan to create a comprehensive, integrated system to measure television however and wherever it’s viewed: traditional TV sets, as streaming video on the Internet, outside of the home or on mobile platforms such as cellular phones and iPods.

Under its “Anytime Anywhere Media Measurement,” or “A2/M2” initiative, Nielsen said it will develop and deploy technology to provide all-electronic ratings for television no matter what platform it is viewed on.

In a lengthy manifesto, Nielsen pledged to develop and deploy technology to measure all of the new ways consumers are watching television, with the key components of the plan including:

• Measurement of online streaming video, as well as the addition of Internet measurement, in Nielsen “People Meter” samples;

• The addition of out-of-home measurement in Nielsen’s People Meter samples;

• Eliminating paper diaries through the introduction of electronic measurement in all local markets, targeted for 2011;

• The development of new meters to measure video viewed on portable media devices; and

• The creation of new research for measuring viewer “engagement” in TV programming.

Nielsen’s initiative includes research on creating “solo meters” that can be used with any portable media system, as well as developing a small wireless meter for platforms that use a wireless “Bluetooth” connection. Nielsen also plans to form a 400-person panel of Apple Computer Inc. “iPod” users by the end of the year.

These efforts all key into some of Nielsen’s recent steps, which include launching its “Active/Passive” meters, which serve as the basis to measure all time-shifted and place-shifted viewing; introducing electronic “Local People Meters” in the top 10 markets; measuring digital-video-recorder and video-on-demand viewing; and acquiring a majority stake in Internet-measurement company Nielsen//NetRatings.

“A2/M2 is the result of extensive consultation with clients, who told us clearly that we should ‘follow the video’ and deliver integrated measurement of all television-like content regardless of platform,” Nielsen CEO Susan Whiting said in a prepared statement.

“A2/M2 recognizes that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to measuring television, while launching the most extensive research and testing program in the company’s history,” she added.

Nielsen will add Internet-TV measurement to its People Meter samples next year, creating a single panel to measure the relationship among TV viewing, Web-site usage and streaming-video consumption.

Under that plan, Nielsen will install and test software meters this summer on the PCs and laptops of People Meter panelists exiting its panels, with the goal of fully deploying them during the 2007-08 season.

To kick off this single-sample Internet/TV panel, starting this summer, Nielsen will offer “fused” data, combining the viewing results from matching respondents and their TV and Internet panels. As a result, it will be possible to report the relationship between television and Internet consumption and to provide combined reporting of viewership of cable networks and use of their Web sites.

To measure out-of-home viewing, Nielsen is developing new personal meters, and the company expects to introduce them to its National and Local People Meter panels by the end of 2008. The company will start testing two different kinds of personal meters this fall, and it will eventually add out-of-home viewing to its national and local ratings.

And in order to get electronic measurement into all of its local markets, Nielsen is rolling out more LPMs and Active/Passive meters; sending battery-powered meters to sample homes in midsized markets; and looking into using data from set-tops and Internet diaries in smaller markers currently served only by paper diaries.