Accreditation debate continues
While Nielsen won re-accreditation for its panel ratings from the full MRC by addressing a dozen previously identified deficiencies in its processes, it still didn’t have support from many media sellers, according to another person familiar with the matter.
A key reason was concern over the number of broadband-only households Nielsen counts in its panel, which stands at 35%, this person said, while other measures, such as the Advertising Research Federation DASH study with data from late 2022, show only 31% of households as broadband-only. It may seem like a small difference, but one that could cost networks billions of dollars in revenue, this person said.
According to the MRC in a statement, Nielsen has committed to adjusting the BBO figure based on its internal research.
MRC CEO George Ivie at the Advertising Research Foundation AudienceXScience event on Tuesday said the industry rating body is working with the ARF to start an audit of DASH to be used as a component by companies across the industry.
A person familiar with the matter said the 31% BBO household figure was just a midpoint average for 2022, up from 25% in 2021. So, given the trajectory, Nielsen’s 35% figure could be spot on for trading of 2023-2024 inventory.
While modeling more broadband-only households could hurt some network ratings in the coming year, ditching big data in currency could hurt others. Impact data supplied from Nielsen so far show substantial gains for Hispanic, Black and Gen Z audiences, according to people familiar with the matter. If moves by some networks to refuse the big data set, and Nielsen’s move to return panel only data to currency status for one more year, results in some agencies only trading on panel data, that will clearly hurt some networks.
“Are you really going to argue that panel ratings are more stable than big data,” asked one network executive. “With panel, we can have 10 people go on vacation for a week and it hits our ratings.” The executive added that Nielsen’s recent methodological explanations to the VAB in correspondence between the two appeared well-reasoned and satisfactory.
Also read: Asian audiences moving to CTV at faster rate
A March letter from VAB's Cunningham to Nielsen CEO of Audience Measurement Karthik Rao outlined network concerns with the most recent February “impact data,” essentially a set of historical device data from Nielsen One compared to panel data. This includes lack of month-to-month stability and lack of consistency by gender and day part, in particular within “major properties” such as college football and NFL games.
Overall, adding big data represented an improvement in many areas, according to the VAB, including in counting of Spanish-language and younger demographics, but still contained many of the same illogical results in comparing big data to panel-only numbers found a year earlier.
The favorable impact on Spanish-language and Black audiences in Nielsen’s big data offering is in a sense a surprise, given that device sets tend to underrepresent both audiences. But Nielsen’s fusion of panel and other data from Experian appears to have offset that effect, and the greater granularity of the data improves measurement of programs with smaller audiences.
"The VAB’s Measurement Innovation Task Force will continue to work in an open feedback and analysis channel with top Nielsen executives on this new big data plus panel data set as Nielsen intends it to be both cross-platform multiscreen TV currency and a pillar part of their cross-media measurement ambitions," Cunningham said in a statement.