Nielsen dubbed the initiative "Anytime Anywhere Media Measurement" -- or A2/M2 -- and plans to introduce portable electronic measurement tools and integrate its Nielsen/NetRatings software into its national TV sample homes.
On-air and online content
It will integrate its measurement system into its national and local people meter TV samples to create a single sample that measures TV and online video use so advertisers can understand how the two interact. The merging of on-air and online content has played a major role in this year's upfront discussions, and Nielsen purports that agencies will be able to use the data in their planning tools to "optimize combined TV/internet campaigns."
Nielsen promised it would start this summer installing and testing software meters with Nielsen/NetRatings technology on the PCs and laptops of small groups of its people meter sample. It has set a goal of fully deploying the system in the 2007-2008 broadcast season.
Buyers and networks cheered the news that Nielsen would expand its measurement outside of the TV, but suggested there were still other issues that they hoped to see Nielsen making progress.
"The world is changing and people are viewing in different ways and looking to do things in different ways," said Steve Berman, senior VP-ad sales at local cable sports network YES. "Nielsen needs to be on that same page with the viewers."
One show, many outlets
Lyle Schwartz, managing partner-research and marketplace analysis at Mediaedge:cia, said he thought integrating multiple media into measurement was a step in the right direction but said he would have questions as Nielsen begins to implement. "How do you do the sample, make sure it's representative, projectable and predictable?" he asked. "If I'm watching the same program in three different venues, should those be separate? Are they worth the same value? One may be more valuable than another?"
Nielsen also announced that paper diaries were on their way out. Nielsen will expand its local people meter service beyond the top 10 markets it's currently deployed, adding 15 more markets to include all of the top 25 markets. It estimates by the time that is completed its local people meter samples will represent half the U.S. population. Nielsen will also try to replace the paper diary it uses in smaller markets with some sort of electronic meter or at least internet diaries, with the method varying depending on size of the market.
"These diaries were designed years ago to handle a couple network affiliates and maybe an independent," said Sharianne Brill, Carat's VP-director of programming services. "They weren't designed for a multichannel environment and they don't work in one."
As previously announced, Nielsen will also begin measuring out-of-home viewing in bars, restaurants, hotels and airports. It will begin this fall to test two "personal meters" -- one that places metering technology in cellphones, and another that resembles an MP3 player. The meters work by collecting audio signatures, which means programmers aren't required to encode their content but rather Nielsen matches audio snippets of the content. Nielsen plans to offer the two devices to its panelists, allowing them to choose based on their personal preference.
YES Network was particularly buoyed that Nielsen would begin reporting out-of-home viewing. Sports networks have arguably the most to gain. An earlier out-of-home study Nielsen conducted in the New York market lifted YES's 18-to-49 ratings for men by almost 15%.
"It goes back to our point that there's more viewing going on than is being measured," said Mr. Berman.