In the reorganization that Nielsen is expected to announce later today, it will outline a new structure for driving digital TV set-top data and integrating it into a wide array of measurement systems, including marketing databases such as its consumer purchasing panel venture with Catalina Marketing. The focus of the new organization will be to meld the best of the so-called "census" quality of set-top data with Nielsen's core panel-based measurement systems.
Under the new structure, Nielsen will effectively elevate the role of digital set-top data across its entire organization, with three key executives taking the lead: Matt O'Grady, who currently leads cross-media platform, TV, online and mobile audience measurement; Cheryl Idell, who oversees local TV media measurement product development; and Pat Dineen, a new Nielsen recruit who will manage Nielsen's set-top data relationships with cable, telco and satellite TV operators.
Nielsen executives emphasized that the new organization reflects the growing promise and importance digital set-top data plays in all of its audience measurement and consumer research systems. It also comes as competition has been growing within the digital set-top marketplace, especially from aggressive rivals such as Rentrak, Kantar Media Research, TRA Analytics, TiVo and others. Rentrak, in particular, has been signing up local TV station operators to its digital set-top ratings systems, though those stations also continue to subscribe to conventional Nielsen TV ratings.
The ad industry, under the auspices of MPG's Collaborative Alliance, has also begun developing innovative methods for appending and indexing Nielsen's "currency" data with digital set-top data for unmeasured cable TV networks, and several agencies including MPG and Carat say they plan to utilize the approach in this year's upfront cable TV advertising marketplace.
Nielsen executives acknowledged that the digital set-top data is taking on greater importance in their organization, and Nielsen President of Media Client Services Dave Thomas alluded that such a reorganization might be coming during Media magazine's Outfront Conference in April. He also indicated that digital set-top data could be part of the solution to addressing TV measurement in small television markets that still rely on paper and pencil diaries.
Nielsen executives emphasize that digital set-top data likely will be a complement to, not a replacement for, Nielsen's panel-based measurement systems, which are acknowledged as a trading currency for TV advertising buys.
Nielsen is currently testing data provided by cable operator Charter Communications in three markets - St. Louis, Greenville/Spartanburg, and Reno - to determine how the data can be used to augment or complement its existing TV measurement methods (people meters, set-meter/diaries, and diary-only), before taking any next steps.