Measuring the viewing habits of U.S. consumers has become more challenging as they divide their time among linear TV and streaming video, and among devices including smartphones. Advertisers want greater assurance of that they’re reaching deduplicated audiences instead of possibly overwhelming them with the same message over and over.

“We want to make sure the consumer is at the center of this conversation,” said Karthik Rao, chief operating officer of TV ratings company Nielsen, in this conversation presented by Beet.TV. Speaking to Matt Sweeney, chief investment officer at WPP-owned media agency GroupM, Rao describes Nielsen’s plans to provide audience research that is meaningful to brands and their media partners.

Rao said Nielsen’s plans rest on three principles: resiliency, coverage and comparability.

“Resiliency foundationally is about adapting to…the massive changes in the privacy landscape,” he said, referring to stricter regulations to give people more control over their personal data. A resilient measurement system includes an identity capability that’s scalable and can be integrated seamlessly in a privacy-compliant way with Nielsen’s clientele.

The company also seeks to provide coverage that reflects the many ways consumers engage with content and advertising on different platforms. Comparability describes the goal of measuring deduplicated audiences.

Nielsen last year announced a plan to launch Nielsen One as a single, cross-media solution for more comparable and comprehensive metrics across platforms. The company will introduce the single measurement service in the fourth quarter of next year, as it seeks to transition the industry to cross-media metrics by the fall 2024 season.

Covid Disruptions

The coronavirus pandemic led companies to ensure the personal safety of their employees with work-from-home arrangements that limited physical interaction with others. Those steps to protect workers hindered Nielsen research that relies on personal interviews with members of its consumer panel.

“The panel ultimately fuels a lot of the measurement capabilities that we provide clients. We saw a little bit of erosion in the ratings,” Rao said. “More importantly than the actual erosion is the lack of clarity as to what is going to happen when we go back into homes.”

Standards for Single Currency

In developing Nielsen One as a single currency for setting the value of ad transactions, the company is seeking the insights from media buyers and sellers to avoid favoritism. Nielsen has partnered with the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) to develop cross-media standards.

“We don’t want to try to help the industry this time by only listening to one constituency,” Rao said. “As part of our engagement program, we put together special committee groups…with representation from all constituencies. We want to get this right this time.”

Sweeney agreed that an identity solution is fundamental to media planning and buying, giving advertisers a way to harness their first-party data and information from other sources.

“Within this context, it starts with an identity. We come back to understanding who those individuals are that we, on behalf of marketing partners, want to reach,” he said. “It is about reach and frequency, but it’s also about the impact of that reach and frequency…Having a currency across all of these different touchpoints is also vital.”

This video is part of the Global Forum on Responsible Media produced by Beet.TV, GroupM with the 4A’s. This track on cross-screen measurement is sponsored by Nielsen. For more videos on this topic, visit this page.

The entire Forum can be watched on-demand here, and all videos from this project can be found here.