Nielsen, Adobe to measure online TV across devices

Adobe and Nielsen in strategic partnership.
Adobe and Nielsen in strategic partnership.

The ratings agency and softwaremaker partner to launch an expansive online measurement tool

Advertisers and media companies have long called for better data on how TV content is consumed across the Internet, as technology continues to disrupt traditional viewing behaviors.

Amid pressure from the industry to track and monetize cross-screen audiences better, Nielsen and Adobe Systems claim to have the answer.

The TV rating agency has unveiled plans for an expanded measurement tool, in partnership with softwaremaker Adobe, which it claims will track a wider range of digital content across multiple devices, such as tablets and game consoles.   

Consumers are increasinlgy conuming TV across multiple devices, breaking the linear viewing patterns. Testament to this shift was the news last week that CBS and HBO are making major strides into Internet TV with new services.

Nielsen, whose ratings are the basis for billions of dollars in advertising spending, has formed a strategic partnership with Adobe that will see Nielsen’s digital audience measurement products integrated with Adobe Analytics and Adobe Primetime.

What's most interesting about the new tool is the promise that it will give customers comparable metrics to measure audiences across different types of content, such as video, text, games and audio, as well as major IP devices, including smartphones, tablets and set-top boxes. This should, in theory, give agencies and media companies a more holistic view of a fragmented digital landscape.

The new tool has already been given the nod by some major agencies and networks, including ESPN, IPG Mediabrands, Sony Pictures Television, Starcom MediaVest Group, Turner Broadcasting, Univision Communications and Viacom, which plan to roll it out next year. 

U.S. adults spend more time using digital media than any other kind — on average five hours and 46 minutes a day — but TV advertising still dominates marketers’ budgets, accounting for $68.5 billion, or 38 percent of total U.S. media spending this year, compared with $50.7 billion, or a 28 percent share, for digital ads, according to the Financial Times.

If successful, this tool could give advertisers confidence to shift more of their ad budgets into digital channels. 

A potential difficulty is how exactly to compare these different types of content with different metrics, points out Wired. Will measurements of clicks, unique visitors, time spent, return visits or distance scrolled be easily comparable across different types of content and devices?

The news comes in the same month that Nielsen was forced to admit it had miscalculated months of TV rating data, inflating ABC's ratings and disadvantaging other networks.

Nielsen and Adobe, therefore, will have to work hard to prove to the industry that the new tool can sufficiently meet the demands of a constantly shifting media landscape. 


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