Better late than never. TV ratings monopolist Nielsen says it plans to start tracking how TV viewers watch Internet video — a sign it plans to defend its ratings franchise as eyeballs shift to the Web.
Nielsen tells Adage it will start installing tracking equipment in Nielsen homes later this year. How does it know Nielsen families will permit the additional intrusion? It says it’s polled past families and found 44 out of 98 said they would allow Nielsen to monitor their computer use.
Of course, Nielsen already has its own Internet measurement service — Nielsen NetRatings — but that data comes from a different group than Nielsen’s TV watchers, and marketers want apples-to-apples comparisons of what they’re buying. Adding Web viewing into its sample of 14,000 Nielsen homes won’t provide the census-level analytics Internet marketers expect, but it’s a start.
For instance, new measurements could conceivably allow Nielsen to include Web viewing of the March Madness basketball tourney in conjunction with its TV ratings. Or it might allow NBC to more easily sell ads for “30 Rock” across TV, NBC.com and Hulu.
Nielsen’s bigger picture: Its lucrative TV ratings monopoly is under assault from all sides. Companies like Comscore, TNS, Rentak, and even Google are all angling for a piece of the ratings business as measurement goes digital. The one thing the others can’t easily replicate is Nielsen’s painstakingly assembled sample, which currently offers more demographic detail.
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