Nielsen beefing up aud service in China

50 markets to be covered by the end of this year

SHANGHAI — Nielsen Media Research is expanding its audience measurement service in China to keep up with one of the world’s most rapidly growing TV and advertising markets.

“This will enable Nielsen Media Research to take a leadership position in this important market,” Robert L. McCann, CEO of the international division of Nielsen Media Research, said Wednesday.

China has about 340 million TV households in a country of 1.2 billion people, serviced by more than 800 TV stations and broadcasters. New landing rights for foreign broadcasters in Guangzhou Province are also fueling the need for reliable data.

And the advertising industry is estimated to be among the five biggest in the world, roughly the same size as that of Germany and the U.K. Last year, total ad spending was up almost 30% to roughly $10 billion, of which nearly 75% was spent on television advertising.

“Our research drives spending in the market,” commented Forest Didier, managing director for Nielsen in the Asia Pacific. “Advertisers are much more comfortable about investing when they know the figures.”

Nielsen has been in China since 1984, with people meters in place in Shanghai since 1996, and other major cities like Beijing and Guangzhou since 1998.

The expansion will take coverage up from 11 cities to 12, with “TV diary” data provided in another 70 cities and 17 provinces. Didier announced that 50 markets would be covered by the end of this year, with the rest in less than two years. Plans to monitor digital and interactive TV in the southern province of Guangzhou are under way.

“With this level of coverage, we can project ratings for 820 million viewers, about 75% of the total market,” Didier said.

China is a more difficult ratings market than the U.S., with a much larger population spread over a wider area. Poor infrastructure means that just getting to monitoring panels is a struggle.