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ComScore, the internet traffic measurement agency, published a white paper today in which it essentially declares war on Nielsen and its panel-based TV audience ratings in favour of a new standard of digital measurement that includes viewers on desktop, laptop, tablet and mobile screens.Advertisers have for years complained that Nielsen’s ratings are inadequate. To measure them, Nielsen utilizes “panels,” which are a selected group of households with meters that monitor their TV habits and diaries they fill out with their media consumption. Nielsen then infers the nation’s watching behaviour from the samples.
The problem is that in many digital media it is possible to know exactly how many people are viewing content at a given time. Only in TV, and a few other old media backwaters, are audiences inferred from samples.
Although Nielsen isn’t specifically named in the white paper, TV ratings is the company’s bread and butter. ComScore called Nielsen-style measurement “no longer sufficient” and “not feasible” for advertisers who want to know all their customers’ watching habits.
Here’s the anti-Nielsen broadside within the paper, titled, “Brave New Digital World: A Manifesto for the Future of Digital Media Measurement & Analytics“:
All media – including TV – are going digital; measurement must follow the same path.
[ISSUE] Traditional media measurement methods, such as the purely panel-based approach used in TV measurement, are no longer sufficient to measure audiences in today’s multi-platform world. While a panel can be used to develop a credible view of a particular individual medium, using this approach alone has substantial limitations that result in a silo’ed view of the digital universe when multiple media are involved. Development of a single-source panel large enough to de-duplicate audiences across the multiple platforms that exist today is simply not feasible.
[SOLUTION] A truly holistic view of digital media consumption – inclusive of TV, desktop computers, smartphones and tablets – requires census-level digital data as a critical input to binding together different media platforms into a unified view of the digital consumer. While panels will remain critical for informing person-based estimates, it is the digital census data that holds the key to understanding the cross-platform audience overlap needed to accurately and effectively synthesize channels into a multi-platform view. comScore’s innovative approach to this problem has created the industry’s first-ever unduplicated multi-platform measurement system that successfully traverses four different screens.