Nielsen To Track Small Portion of Internet TV Viewing
Still Will Be Some Time Before Firm Joins Modern Mankind
Just a few years ago, Nielsen proclaimed that the idea of TV cord cutting in favor of Internet video alternatives was "purely fiction." Subsequent Nielsen reports have often quite adorably gone out of their way
to downplay cord cutters to make TV executives (who want things to remain precisely as they are) happy. All that time Nielsen, a company tasked with tracking TV viewing habits
didn't see fit to actually track Internet video viewers, making them probably the last one anyone should ask about cord cutters or television's evolution.
Confirming earlier reports
that Nielsen has been preparing to join the year 2013 and track online video viewers, the Wall Street Journal
reports that Nielsen will this week unveil their new tool for doing just that. Sort of. The new tool will only track viewership on major network websites, and only for PC viewing -- not
tablets or smartphones:
Media companies want to make sure they get full credit with advertisers for online viewing. The technology in the Nielsen pilot program is step forward in that direction, but won't provide everything media companies are looking for. It will track viewing of TV content on computers but not on tablets and smartphones....Also, the technology can't yet provide viewership data in the traditional ratings format of the TV industry; instead, it offers Web-oriented metrics like the number of "unique" viewers, plus data on the age and gender of viewers.
So in other words, Nielsen's belated entry into tracking broadband video won't include sites like Hulu, Netflix and YouTube, it won't collect data on tablet and smartphone users, and it won't even provide the full slate of traditionally-selected metrics. At this pace, you should probably expect Nielsen to catch up with modern viewing habits sometime around 2031.
Expect Nielsen to follow the money I would be very surprised if Nielsen and Hulu are not talking already, even if they don't have a tracking deal worked out yet. Ultimately advertisers will want to be able to compare the efficiency (return on investment or ROI) of using Hulu to the efficiencies of traditional broadcast and cable TV. Putting that analytics capability together is a win-win-win for Nielsen, Hulu and advertisers.
So far, the advertisers on Hulu are a very small subsection of overall advertisers. As a long time marketer, I find the comparison in advertising content to be stark...
As background, I depend on the two services (Hulu and Netflix over Apple TV) plus 5 digital channels I get over the air, without cable. Continuing with my comments on Hulu ads, they are repetitive far beyond anything seen over the air and PSA's (public service announcements) are an outsized proportion of total ads. This strongly suggests demand for Hulu ad time is not robust. When I finally bought an antenna to check out my OTA reception, I was blown away by the comparative richness and variety of broadcast ads! I suspect the lack of compatible measurement standards has a lot to do with advertisers' reluctance to use Hulu.
In my opinion, it would be in Hulu's best interests to be tracked in a compatible fashion with traditional broadcast media, which means they should embrace Nielsen. And Nielsen should be able to make money off of those analytics.