Nielsen Plans to Track TV Use on Web
Television audience tracker Nielsen Media Research on Wednesday unveiled wide-ranging plans to expand its coverage to the Internet, mobile phones and other gadgets as it adapts to rapidly changing ways people view TV programs.
The move by Nielsen and sister company NetRatings Inc., upon whose research TV networks, websites and advertisers rely for setting advertising rates, could bring major changes to the TV industry as people increasingly watch shows outside the home or on computers, mobile devices and cellphones.
The new testing, which also looks at viewership in restaurants and expands the use of electronic metering to smaller TV markets, could dramatically change the way viewership is tallied and might result in major shifts in the way advertising dollars are spent and received.
The plan by Nielsen, which is owned by information provider VNU, is called Anytime Anywhere Media Measurement, or A2/M2. It will roll out over several years, starting with test programs this summer.
“A2/M2 is the result of extensive consultation with clients, who told us clearly that we should ‘follow the video’ and deliver integrated measurement of all television-like content regardless of [the delivery] platform,” Nielsen Media Research Chief Executive Susan Whiting said.
Nielsen counts all major U.S. networks, ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox, as its clients. Nielsen and VNU own the majority of Web traffic tracker NetRatings, and their venture Nielsen/NetRatings is supplying Internet data.
As soon as next year, Nielsen will be installing software on computers owned by sample audiences who now have its People Meters linked to their TVs. The goal is to create a single group that will measure combined TV and Web viewing.