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Nielsen, Adobe Team on Digital-Content Ratings

ESPN, Sony Crackle, Turner, Univision and Viacom among initial programming partners for cross-platform usage metrics

Nielsen and Adobe Systems have paired up for what they claim will be the first comprehensive, cross-­platform system for comparably measuring consumption of digital-media content — including TV programming distributed online — across the web, apps and connected-television devices.

It remains to be seen how eagerly Madison Avenue will embrace the new service, slated to launch commercially in 2015. So far, the companies have lined up several programmers to participate in the digital-ratings system, including ESPN, Sony Pictures Television’s Crackle, Turner Broadcasting, Univision Communications and Viacom.

The new service is separate from Nielsen’s flagship TV ratings, which serve as a de facto standard for the television biz. Earlier this month, Nielsen suffered a black eye after it revealed that a glitch resulted in TV ratings being allocated incorrectly among broadcast and syndication programming since March. Starting this season, Nielsen is incorporating mobile viewing of TV programming into C3 ratings if the ads are the same as those that run in the TV broadcast.

The Nielsen Digital Content Ratings will integrate Nielsen’s digital-audience measurement products with Adobe Analytics and the Adobe Primetime online-TV platform. That will provide “currency-grade content metrics,” the companies said, to measure audiences accurately across every major Internet-connected device, including desktops, smartphones, tablets, game consoles and over-­the-­top set-tops.

With Nielsen and Adobe joining forces, “together we’ll be able to offer our customers a more seamless and efficient way to plan and deliver against their audiences,” said Megan Clarken, EVP of global product leadership at Nielsen.

ComScore, a rival to Nielsen in the digital-measurement space, “will almost certainly respond to this announcement,” Bernstein Research analyst Todd Juenger wrote in a research note Monday. It’s possible comScore could also partner with Adobe, given that the Nielsen agreement with Adobe is not exclusive. However, the level of integration required “makes it seem unlikely that Adobe would later also partner with comScore,” Juenger said.

For the Nielsen-Adobe Digital Content Ratings, programmers currently in the mix are optimistic the partnership will help them gain a better understanding of how digital content is accessed across platforms. “One of the challenges in digital measurement has been the lack of alignment between site analytics and syndicated measurement data, and we will be working with Nielsen and Adobe to help resolve this,” Artie Bulgrin, ESPN’s SVP of global research and analytics, said in a statement.

Turner chief research officer Howard Shimmel similarly expressed hope that the Nielsen-Adobe deal will yield “stronger digital and cross-­platforms measurement to accurately track consumers and better monetize cross-screen audiences.”

The Nielsen Digital Content Ratings, supported by certified Adobe census data, will measure content of all types, including online TV, videos, games, audio and text. In addition, Nielsen’s measurement data will be embedded in Adobe Primetime to give broadcasters and pay-­TV providers the ability to measure audiences and viewing behaviors across a broad set of devices.

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