The statement said Nielsen would issue a “follow-on release” to explain the impact on its TV ratings methodology later, but the move will no doubt raise concerns from some of its TV ratings clients who might be concerned about how the additional task of measuring mobile devices could impact its TV rating sample, which is the primary currency for the national and local TV advertising marketplace.
While few TV and agency researchers would argue that mobile viewing of TV programming hasn’t become an important factor, making substantive changes to the TV ratings system typically is a red flag, because of concerns that it could impact the behavior of sample households.
Similar concerns arose when Nielsen began metering Internet access inside its sample households.
Nielsen said recruitment of mobile users inside its TV ratings panel will begin with the installation of a “registration application on mobile devices in all people meter homes.”
Nielsen did not explain how the app would be installed, but said it will enable Nielsen to “calibrate mobile video viewing data,” and added that it is “designed to protect the privacy of our panelists.”
Ultimately, Nielsen said the goal is to create a separate category of TV viewing via mobile devices, adding that tablet usage will no longer be included as part of its “PC bucket” and instead will be reported in their “own, new bucket.”
“As the media landscape continues to evolve, we are pleased to rollout this next phase of recruitment on our way to total measurement,” Nielsen explained in the statement, adding: “As mobile recruitment efforts continue through next April, we'll ensure that regular updates on progress and ongoing analysis are provided.”