Nielsen tracks cinema ads

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Nielsen Media Research, a unit of VNU Media Measurement & Information, is in the midst of launching two audience-tracking services. This week, the company rolls out Nielsen Cinema, an in-theater audience measurement service for buying and selling cinema advertising. And after that is a partnership with SeaChange, a technology company, to measure video-on-demand audiences.

According to executives at Nielsen, the cinema service was developed with input from advertising agencies, theatrical exhibitors and the Cinema Advertising Council. National Cinema Network, Regal CineMedia, and Screenvision are partnering with Nielsen on the service. Together this trio sells over 24,000 screens.

Nielsen Cinema will collect audience data through a random phone survey of at least 500 moviegoers each week. Audience-attendance estimates are then established through a model combining theater box-office gross, ticket-price information and historical data. Nielsen Cinema will issue quarterly and monthly reports to clients.

VOD metrics

Nielsen Cinema's first reports of cinema-advertising audience size and composition were released to clients this month, reporting on cinema advertising that occurred in May and June 2003.

Advertising Age has learned that Maynard, Mass.-based SeaChange will provide software technology that will allow Nielsen to report audience metrics for VOD, which InStat reports is in 40% of all U.S. cable TV systems or 4 million homes.

"VOD is appearing in our sample homes and it's going to be an increasing phenomenon in the industry as more cable operators deploy it to homes," said Scott Brown, senior VP-strategic relationships, marketing and technology, Nielsen Media Research.

Ad-supported VOD, which several cable providers are testing, will increasingly become part of the business equation making audience measurement a necessity for marketers attempting to target their messages. Mr. Brown declined to specify when the VOD measurement service will launch though he expects it to happen some time next year. The current SeaChange reporting software is available on VOD systems today, Mr. Brown said, and it is up to the cable operators to decide when and how to engage it.

SeaChange technology makes it possible for a cable provider's VOD system to serve as a Nielsen measurement device to determine who is actually viewing VOD programming, how content is being consumed and how the time is spent.

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