Home On TV & Video Nielsen’s Accreditation Reinstated, But Measurement Challenges Remain

Nielsen’s Accreditation Reinstated, But Measurement Challenges Remain

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Angelina Eng, VP of Measurement, Addressability and Data Center at IAB

In September 2021, the media industry received a wake-up call when the MRC suspended Nielsen’s accreditation for its national and local TV ratings services. This suspension came after it was revealed that Nielsen was undercounting TV viewership, raising questions about the accuracy and reliability of its data, its ability to measure TV viewership and the future of the organization. 

Although COVID-19-related panel degradation was the primary reason for the data inaccuracy, the suspension served as a reminder of the measurement challenges the advertising industry faces and how quickly data can become less reliable.

Learning a tough lesson

After a 19-month suspension, MRC’s decision this week to reinstate Nielsen’s national TV audience-measurement service couldn’t have come at a better time. With the start of the 2023-24 upfront planning and buying season, this marks a significant accomplishment for Nielsen.

However, it’s important to note that accreditation only applies to national TV services. There are still several other Nielsen products without accreditation, such as their “digital in TV ratings” (dTVR), local TV ratings service, “digital ad ratings” (DAR) and their new Nielsen One cross-media measurement service.

While Nielsen has taken steps to address and resolve the issues that resulted in its suspension, there is still progress to be made to ensure that its National Total Advertising Market (TAM) measurements align with industry standards. This entails incorporating Return Path Data (RPD) and Automatic Content Recognition (ACR) data into its measurements of television viewership. 

RPD is derived from set-top boxes and offers insights into the channels people watch, while ACR, collected from connected televisions, measures the programs people watch. Both RPD and ACR also provide audience demographics and viewing times. 

Advertisers and networks rely on RPD and ACR data to make informed decisions on ad placements and program scheduling. However, both parties expect to see improvements from Nielsen in validating and estimating broadband-only households, as well as increased transparency in their television viewing estimates.

The future of data measurement

The media industry faces multiple challenges today, like data signal loss, changing privacy legislation and the lasting impact of the pandemic. These challenges are making it increasingly difficult for measurement organizations to provide accurate and reliable data and insights to advertisers and media companies.

As new technologies and solutions emerge, and organizations increasingly strive to become more data-driven, the importance of accurate and reliable data cannot be overstated. Even in an unpredictable and ever-changing future, it’s crucial for measurement organizations to be agile and innovative.

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Companies that rely on data as a core business need to have plans in place to address data quality concerns to ensure currency-grade metrics and comparability. This includes issues with panel size, data/measurement methodologies, data diversification, integrity and accuracy. If any errors or flaws are revealed, it can be damaging to the company’s reputation and bottom line.

This is why measurement providers like Nielsen need to have in place robust data quality assurance, such as scenario planning, regular audits, verification procedures and transparency initiatives. 

Additionally, artificial intelligence, data modeling and natural language processes can play a significant role in filling any gaps in data and provide valuable insights to aid advertisers in making informed investment decisions. This ultimately benefits all stakeholders in the advertising ecosystem.

Nevertheless, let’s take a moment to cheer Nielsen for its reinstated accreditation – just in time for the NewFronts and upfronts!

On TV & Video” is a column exploring opportunities and challenges in advanced TV and video. 

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For more articles featuring Angelina Eng, click here.

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