Nielsen One Has Potential to Pierce Measurement Veil

Nielsen One Has Potential Pierce Measurement
Cheyne Gateley/VIP

Nielsen One is the long-awaited holy grail the industry has been clamoring for over the better part of a decade. Despite this, many in the industry will argue that One is a belated solution to the issues it is facing.

There’s some merit to this, but the fact that Nielsen has unveiled plans for what looks to be a comprehensive measurement system is a positive. The downside is we are still two years from the first data points being shared, meaning there are still a couple years of measurement muddling to go.

One pledges to measure viewership across devices inside and outside home, to a much more precise degree than available currently, down from average minutes spent watching a title to a second-by-second measure. A cynic may find that hard to believe given Nielsen’s struggles with the TV industry, most recently the off-then-on-again out-of-home TV measurement that was reinstated to considerable industry pushback.

That could be why there’s such a large lead time prior to the first data being available. Should Nielsen see a delay, or the system not work as anticipated, the furor would be off the charts.

Much as VIP’s Viewniverse study set out to do, Nielsen One aims to scale viewership across TV and streaming services once it launches in Q4 2022. A future where Netflix’s 8 p.m. audience can be compared with Pluto TV, USA and ABC is looming, as well as slicing the data by the total audience watching via smart TVs, set-top boxes, Amazon Fires, Rokus and iPhones. The various fogs of war that have obscured accurate reads on viewership would be lifted.

The happiest in all this would be ad agencies, which would be able to access viewership data for individual commercials on any device, currently unheard of. Creative would be better informed if a particular ad constantly sees dropoff. The effectiveness of TV promos for garnering interest in a show or service would also finally be able to be measured, which in itself has been a holy grail for TV networks and their agency partners.

There’s also potential for a major shift in how the ad agency does business with TV networks. The 2020 upfronts saw changes due to COVID-19, with advertisers unwilling to commit huge budgets in a time of uncertainty. With real-time data soon to be available, it’s entirely plausible that budgets will never again be staked on nothing more than a pilot, as video advertising enters the data age.

Another set of happy parties would be streaming-video licensees. Typically, the deal between a video provider and a streaming service was fee-only, meaning the viewership on the streaming platform wasn’t passed along. This would no longer be the case, and producers and licensors will have data to argue their case for fee increases, or against cancellations.

Not everyone will be pleased with this development. AVOD services in particular have been reliant upon the reporting the loosest of audience figures to plump up their figures. This veil will be pierced one way or another once Nielsen One begins to publish.

It will be in the interests of AVOD services to begin publishing daily, weekly and monthly average user data, as a starter, to get a jump on this. The alternative will be a sudden jolt once viewing data is available, given the likelihood that frequent users are a small proportion of the Monthly Average Users data typically bandied about.

One brings considerable upsides to linear and digital video, so long as all goes according to plan with its implementation and launch. Given Nielsen’s prior issues with rollouts, which in fairness are sometimes due to quality testing, it may take longer than envisioned. Even so, should One be able to live up to expectations, it will be a game-changer in the video data world.