Nielsen's Effort To Connect TV And Online Metrics Revolves Around Defense Of The GRP

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Eric Solomon, NielsenAfter several months in beta, Nielsen is finishing its decadelong project to combine audience measurement of TV, online and mobile with its Digital Program Ratings (DPR).

The company is winding down a pilot test, running since May, with nine major clients: ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, CW, A&E, Discovery, Univision and AOL.

DPR’s public debut next year will be a big test of Nielsen's relationship with publishers, who have worried that Nielsen’s measurements undervalue niche audiences. On the flip side, advertisers have complained that Nielsen’s products — like its Online Campaign Ratings (OCR) — lack predictive power.

DPR is the latest Nielsen effort to soften these complaints. Previous attempts involved connecting OCR to media and data partners like Facebook and Experian Marketing Services, and introducing Twitter TV Ratings to round out its suite of social tools by ranking broadcast and cable shows based on tweet volume.

AdExchanger spoke with Eric Solomon, Nielsen's SVP of gobal digital audience measurement, who was recently charged with overseeing OCR and will oversee the release of DPR.

AdExchanger: What is DPR and how can it solve publishers' multichannel measurement problems?

ERIC SOLOMON: DPR is intended to provide an overnight rating for television content delivered on computers, smartphones and tablets. It is built upon the methodology and infrastructure we created for OCR, so it will collect a census of viewership from these devices and use privacy-protected third-party data calibrated with Nielsen cross-platform panel data to assign demographics.

How will it be applied?

DPR has two key use cases. First, it is intended as a complement to OCR. DPR will provide publishers with the reach and audience composition for their digital programs, which can be used as an input to the forecasting and sales process. With this data, publishers can confidently sell their audiences to brand advertisers using OCR as the guarantee. The initial launch of DPR in Q1 of next year will deliver this capability.

Later in the year, we will deliver the second release of DPR, which will enable the comparability of digital audiences to those on TV by adding the measurement of viewing duration. Once we add duration to the equation, we can produce GRPs and average audience numbers that are comparable our television data so clients can understand the usage on both television and digital devices. This release will also measure viewership from iOS and Android smartphones and tablets.

What are the main challenges with mobile measurement?

The overriding challenge on mobile devices — smartphones and tablets — is how to passively measure consumption. The specific issues we have had to address are the inability to listen for Nielsen audio codes used for crediting to TV ratings, the restriction against running a background app on the iOS operating system and dealing with a largely cookieless environment, while not interfering with the slick user experience.

We are really excited about the solution we have engineered, because it addresses all of these issues while also making it as easy as possible for publishers and distributors of content to instrument for Nielsen measurement.

What’s the benefit of Nielsen’s relationship with Facebook?

We started working with Facebook for OCR because their user base is so large and we found their age and gender data to be so reliable. We have worked closely with Facebook to provide data from the gold-standard Nielsen TV panel that has made the data they provide us even better. And of course it’s done in a privacy-protected method that is patented and MRC approved.

And Experian?

From the beginning the idea was to have a syndicate of data partners, and last month we announced an agreement with Experian to be our second.  With Experian and others to come, we will be able to go beyond age and gender and apply other demographic profile data to viewers such as household size, income, education level and eventually race/ethnicity.

How about Google, which recently adopted OCR?

As for Google, we're excited about Google’s recent decision to accept OCR tags on their properties. It's further validation of the digital GRP concept and confirmation that Nielsen’s solution is in high demand from advertisers and their agencies.

What is the state of Nielsen's viewability offerings? What are you concentrating on at the moment?

We provide viewability via Integral Ad Science. Just last week we released OCR v2.5, which includes integrated viewability reporting, and we are working on Media Ratings Council accreditation as we speak. More information on that is forthcoming very shortly.

What else are you concentrating on for next year?

Maybe the biggest thing we are working on right now is the ability to credit viewership of TV watched on a smartphone or tablet to the national and local TV ratings. We are looking to further build on the OCR/DPR engine to capture this type of viewing – the full program with all commercials intact, such as with a live simulcast – and credit it to the ratings, as if the smartphone or tablet in question was an additional TV.

We have announced to the industry our intention to be ready to credit this viewing to the TV ratings in September of 2014, in time for the 2014-15 fall TV season.

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