Nielsen brings its cross-channel planning tool to connected TV

Nielsen will bring new media planning-focused insights to CTV ad buyers

TV rating and media measurement firm Nielsen is aiming to improve connected television (CTV) campaign planning by bringing its Nielsen Media Impact analytics tool to the streaming ecosystem.

Nielsen today announced that it will bring the Nielsen Media Impact (NMI) product to streamed content on CTV. NMI, which was previously only available for Nielsen’s linear TV customers, is billed as a comprehensive planning solution that grants media buyers respondent-level data insights (concerning metrics such as reach, frequency and duplication) that help optimize buying and planning efficiency across channels.

Nielsen, an industry mainstay whose frameworks have long been the gold standard for TV ratings and video media measurement, was last year the subject of an accreditation scandal that led the industry to call for better cross-channel measurement solutions. In the interim, the company has made a number of attempts to improve the reliability, precision and accuracy of its ad measurement and planning frameworks.

Thanks to its existing hold on the TV ratings and video media measurement market, Nielsen is in a strong position to render a fuller picture of cross-platform audience reach for media owners, media buyers and third-party agencies. Per today’s announcement, the company says that the “ability to identify the incremental reach of streaming apps in the media planning process” will help advertisers plan better integrated and cross-channel campaigns, and ultimately “reach consumers regardless of device.”

Jay Nielsen, the company’s senior vice-president of planning products, tells The Drum that the new product aims to answer a growing demand. “With streaming becoming a fast-growing channel ... there are more opportunities to engage consumers.” He points to the firm’s recent research, which indicates that January saw the highest rate of streaming minutes per week of all time. Growing viewership rates, of course, equate to more valuable opportunities for advertisers. Recent data from eMarketer indicates that by the end of last year, US CTV advertising was up 60% year-on-year.

Nielsen says that marketers need better planning tools “to understand the full cross-platform reach of each channel so they can ultimately reach the right audiences and drive ROI.” He says that the new integration is the sole solution on the market for connecting audience metrics across TV, digital, streaming, radio, print and out-of-home (OOH) in a planning and analytics platform.

And others believe it’s a move likely to benefit the entire industry. “Anything that allows for more informed decisions so that optimizations toward efficiency can happen at scale is a step in the right direction,” says Marika Roque, chief operating officer at digital ad platform KERV Interactive. “If this truly works, this will provide a ton of value to the CTV buying ecosystem, combined with optimizing toward brand safety. Agencies and brands are always looking to improve ROI and currently CTV is the new wild, wild west.” As it stands, Roque says, advertisers are eagerly funneling ad dollars into CTV because they know that eyeballs are there – but they’re proceeding with caution as they know that both existing measurement standards and transparency into the buying process leave a lot to be desired.

In particular, the demand for both more granular and comprehensive data insights concerning streamed media viewership is higher than ever. With Nielsen still grappling to regain its Media Rating Council accreditations that were suspended over misreported CTV viewership data, major players including NBCUniversal and, as of this week, the Association of National Advertisers have called for new models of TV rating and media measurement. Many, including the head of the Video Advertising Bureau (VAB) Sean Cunningham, have criticized Nielsen’s panel-based approach – a model that has been in use for about three decades – saying that it fails to provide sufficient granularity or precision.

In the past few months, Nielsen has announced a handful of updates to its product portfolio in an attempt to remedy such concerns and improve its cross-channel insights solutions. It has bundled its streaming and measurement offerings, overhauled its commercial ratings system, launched a product to help advertisers determine which member of a household is watching a given program and teamed up with The Trade Desk on a new big data initiative meant to optimize measurement.

As the video streaming market swells, Nielsen argues that the integration of NMI with CTV will help advertisers better plan and optimize their campaigns and reduce wasted ad spend. The company argues that it is uniquely positioned to offer these advantages due to the fact that NMI is powered by data from Nielsen’s Streaming Platform Ratings – which it says “provides a macro view of how consumers engage with various streaming platforms” through its panels and metering technology.

However, the VAB’s Cunningham raises the same concerns that led his organization to petition the Media Rating Council to suspend Nielsen’s accreditations last fall: the “macro view” that Nielsen’s frameworks offer is, well, too macro. He says that developments such as the new NMI integration and the company’s Streaming Meter are “bolt-ons to an already overstressed national panel that’s proving ever-more inadequate to measuring the expanding multiplicity of viewer options for TV content and ads.” Cunningham argues that rather than updating Nielsen’s long-standing frameworks, what’s needed is an overhaul of the status quo.

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