Nielsen to Track Online Video Use Through Its TV Panel

Goal to Eventually Measure All Video Consumption

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NEW YORK ( -- With more consumers starting to consider the idea of watching TV programs and other video online, Nielsen said it would "introduce measurement of TV viewing on the PC screen in our TV panel by the end of 2008."

"The clients want it," said Jim O'Hara, president of media product leadership for Nielsen Co. "Our ultimate goal will be to bring full internet measurement to the TV panel for both streaming and navigation."

Nielsen's effort is part of a strategy to measure all kinds of video consumption, whether it take place on the traditional TV screen or on smaller video perches such as mobile phones or iPods. The effort is not an easy one, however, primarily because people don't watch programs or video content in the same way across different venues. And yet, with the number of online video viewers projected to rise to 183 million in 2011 compared with 114 million in 2006, according to statistics from eMarketer, the need to link audience behavior as viewers travel from one medium to another is becoming more pressing.

Advertisers will want to know whether a viewer of ABC's "Pushing Daisies," for example, watched part of the program online, or simply was pushed to an ABC site by the program, or if a viewer watched a piece of the program via another video-sharing site.

Hurdles online
Nielsen hopes to take a "first step," said Mr. O'Hara, but recognizes there will be some hurdles in its quest. Last year, "we conducted research into, among other things, whether former TV panelists would permit us to install meters on their computers. The level of internet usage measured included all forms of video streaming and website navigation," Nielsen said in a letter to clients today. "Out of 98 eligible households, 44 agreed to participate in the internet measurement." Those that refused "told us that although they trusted Nielsen to maintain their confidentiality with TV measurement, they felt computer data is more personal and personally identifiable than TV data."

Nielsen expects to begin installing technology with its TV panelists in the third or fourth quarter of 2008, said Mr. O'Hara. The company has other ways to measure video consumption online, including a service known as VideoCensus. The company expects its panel to grow to about 20,000 homes encompassing approximately 60,000 people by the end of 2009, compared to about 14,000 homes at present encompassing approximately 32,000 people.
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