Nielsen says it will make streaming data available to users of its media planning products, further integrating the company’s measurement of streaming platforms into information for media planners.
The move could also be seen a signal to the industry that Nielsen is addressing its issues with regard to streaming as the long-time ratings provider looks to fend off sharp criticism of its measurement capabilities from industry groups and challenges from other would-be suppliers of ratings data.
The company will expand its Nielsen Media Impact planning suit with the addition of its streaming platform ratings — the data that fuels the monthly Gauge reports showing how TV users divide their time among platforms (streaming, broadcast and cable) and among individual streaming services. The goal is to help advertisers and media buyers plan cross-platform campaigns by showing where their target audiences are.
“Nielsen is committed to helping the industry make data-informed decisions about their media plans that maximize efficiency and drive results,” said Jay Nielsen, senior vp planning products at Nielsen. “With streaming data from the TV glass now available directly in our media planning tool, clients can more easily reach advanced audiences and navigate the fast changing landscape with the confidence that they’re spending every dollar as effectively as possible.”
What the addition does not do is provide cross-platform media measurement. Nielsen has as its stated goal to provide a single metric for all-platform consumption, which it calls NielsenOne, in the next couple of years.
The change to the planning tools comes as Nielsen is facing more questions about its service and more potential competition than it has in years. The company has faced allegations from industry trade groups that it has undercounted viewers during the pandemic, leading to the suspension last September of Nielsen’s accreditation for national TV ratings by industry oversight board the Media Rating Council. The company also admitted to missing some out-of-home viewers in the first year those figures were rolled into national program ratings.
Media companies, meanwhile, have put out calls for new measurement tools in recent months. NBCUniversal frequently touted ad measurement by iSpot.TV during the Winter Olympics, and companies like VideoAmp and Comscore are also offering alternatives — though no major client has stopped using Nielsen’s core ratings product since the suspension.
The announcement of streaming data being included in the Nielsen Media Impact drew a skeptical reaction from trade group the Video Advertising Bureau, which has been among Nielsen’s most vocal critics. “Nielsen enters an already-crowded cross-platform TV measurement and currency provider arena with a distinct disadvantage versus the rocketing census-level cross-platform competitors,” VAB president and CEO Sean Cunningham said in a statement. “Their Streaming Meter is another bolt-on to an already overstressed national panel that’s proving ever more inadequate to measuring the expanding multiplicity of viewer options for TV content and ads.”
Nielsen’s metrics show that streaming makes up about 28 percent of TV viewers’ total consumption, a couple points ahead of broadcast. In the seven months the company has been releasing its Gauge reports, cable has consistently remained the largest platform, claiming about 37 percent of TV usage.