This past week, Rino Scanzoni, chief investment officer at GroupM, openly decried Nielsen’s national, sample-based TV measurement. Although Scanzoni has an inherent bias (GroupM’s parent WPP owns Nielsen competitor, Kantar, which has a set-top-box data-based TV measurement system of its own called RaPiDview), his words still speak volumes about the state of TV audience measurement and the need for a new system.
In our report earlier this year, "TV’s Currency Conversion" (client access required), we predicted that set-top-box data would start to gain traction in local markets where Nielsen’s samples were especially small and statistically unstable. Since then, data providers like Rentrak and Kantar have been gaining traction in these local markets, offering marketers granular user-level data from local cable companies’ set-top boxes. Nielsen, too, is aggregating set-top-box data as part of a push for a hybrid methodology, but these efforts are confined to its small local market; its legacy national measurement methodology continues to be based on a relatively small sample of households.
However, Nielsen has more problems on its hands than local TV measurement. Consumers are constantly multitasking with other devices while they watch TV. With attention spans no longer guaranteed during commercial breaks, marketers need new ways to measure their ads not just on TV but also across smartphones, tablets, and laptops as well. As media fragmentation continues to grow, marketers will need behavioral cross-platform metrics that measure their audiences across multiple media touchpoints.
One of our ace researchers on the CMO and marketing leadership team, Mike Glantz, pulled together this blog post to follow up on a report we collaborated on a few months back, "TV's Currency Conversion" (client access required), which discussed the merging of Nielsen data and set-top box and other census-level data. Although television is the overall dominant advertising medium in US, marketers are seeing audience fragmentation across the spectrum of broadcast and cable networks. In the digital world, online video viewership continues to grow and enables marketers to target niche audiences with relative precision, compared with TV. However, marketers have been hesitant to see online video and TV as two sides of the same coin because there has not been a common measurement to link the two media, and digital video is perceived to lack the massive reach that TV currently enjoys.
Our Researcher Mike Glantz has been tracking the changes in TV media buying for us. Here are some thoughts from him on a new announcement from Nielsen and Kantar:
Although TV controls the lion’s share of the budget for most marketers, it has rarely been the most innovative or accountable medium. However, as TV becomes more fragmented and has to compete with digital, mobile, and over-the-top (OTT) video for viewers’ attention, marketers will need more granular data sets that allow them to track viewers across multiple platforms. In our Q4 2010 report “TV’s Currency Conversion” we made the call that set-top-box (STB) data will emerge as a parallel data currency with Nielsen for TV marketers. STB data allows marketers to accurately measure audiences across the tiniest cable networks, measure second-by-second commercial data, and compare audiences across TV and digital. We argued that STB data adoption would start with local marketers, since local marketers: