Nielsen Taking Next Big Step to Incorporate Mobile-Device Viewing Into TV Ratings

Software kits that enable the measurement will be available to the ratings company’s clients in mid-November

Nielsen will be sending software kits that will enable clients to incorporate mobile-TV viewing into its ratings in mid-November, the company said on Sunday night.

The announcement solidifies the company’s plans to include mobile numbers into its traditional ratings measurement  beginning with the 2014-2015 season.

“We’ve been working hard to deliver this new (Software Developer Kit) and are excited to be able to deliver a single client solution that supports both the linear (TV style) and dynamic (internet style) ad models,” said Nielsen’s Megan Clarken, executive vice president of Global Product Leader, in a statement.

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The unified encoding approach for video, which Nielsen has been openly discussing for several months, enables measurement to follow content across screens and ad models, the company said. So if a broadcaster makes a TV show available for viewing on a digital device and it meets the ad load and timeline requirements, then that viewing will count in the regular Nielsen TV ratings.

If the content is not eligible for TV ratings — due to elapsed crediting time, dynamic ad insertion or because it originated from the web itself — then the viewing of it will be included only in Nielsen Digital Ratings.

The technology works by analyzing audio watermarks, metadata or tags associated with the content and related advertising, Nielsen said.

Nielsen has been attempting of late to come to terms with the new-technology age. In May, the company expanded its definition of homes with TVs to include those who consume their television programming on a computer over a high-speed broadband connection. At the time, there were rumblings of the approaching mobile measurement.

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More recently, the company partnered with Twitter to roll out its Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings, which measure the number of interactions on the social-media website regarding a specific television show.

The system has been met critically by many industry executives, who say that any correlation or causation between tweets and ratings is limited at best.

And last October, Twitter and Nielsen partnered to introduce a series of brand surveys into users’ news feeds, similar to the promoted tweets marketers pay to put in users’ timelines on both mobile and desktop.

“Users may see a tweet by @TwitterSurveys inviting them to fill out a survey directly within the tweet itself,” Joel Lunenfeld, Twitter’s vice president of brand strategy, wrote in a blog post at the time. “Building on Twitter’s mobile heritage, we’re giving brands the ability to deliver and measure the impact of mobile and traditional desktop campaigns through these surveys.”

In a less high-tech move, in December, Nielsen Holdings acquired radio-measurement company Arbitron for $1.26 billion.