After several months of prepping, Nielsen on Monday announced a new SDK (software development kit) that will allow it to track TV viewing on smartphones and other devices along with its regular TV ratings service. The media measurement firm said it would roll out the SDK for Nielsen clients by mid-November.
While TV viewing on mobile phones and tablets is still small compared to traditional TV, broadcast and cable networks such as ABC, CNN and ESPN are increasingly pushing live streams to their apps through efforts like TV Everywhere. With the mobile TV audience expected to continue its growth, Nielsen’s aim is to provide a universal approach to measuring viewership regardless of platform.
“We’ve been working hard to deliver this new SDK and are excited to be able to deliver a single client solution that supports both the linear (TV style) and dynamic (Internet style) ad models," said Megan Clarken, executive vice president, global product leader, Nielsen, in a post today. "This unified encoding approach for video enables measurement to follow content across screens and ad models."
That means that if a broadcaster makes a TV show available for viewing on a digital service, and it meets the “ad load and timeline requirements for TV ratings,’ then views of that content will be counted to overall Nielsen TV ratings, the company said.
If the content isn’t eligible for TV ratings because of factors such as elapsed crediting time, dynamic ad insertion, or because it originate from the Web itself, the it gets included in Nielsen Digital Ratings, (specifically, Nielsen Digital Program Ratings for content, and Online Campaign Ratings for ad ratings).
Unlike its traditional method of tracking ratings through home-based meters, Nielsen’s new SDK uses audio watermarks as well as tags and other metadata on TV shows and their ads. The company says it is also relying on “big data and a census-style measurement approach” to collect demographic data about streaming audiences.
To do that, it will match user information “in a privacy safe way” from data providers including Facebook, and calibrated with data from its National People Meter panel. Nielsen has a TV partnership with Twitter, but did not specify in its announcement whether the microblogging service would be among other data sources.
Nielsen has been working toward release of the mobile TV metrics capability for months. In June, it announced completing a trial with CBS local TV stations that allowed them to track streaming through a local TV app from Syncbak using the Nielsen SDK. And around Advertising Week in September, reports merged about Nielsen soon rolling out the mobile TV measurement service.
Nielsen reported in June that the overall U.S. mobile video audience in the first quarter reached 45.3 million, up from 36 million a year ago. That 25% gain made the mobile phone the fastest-growing platform by viewership in the last year, while audiences on traditional TV and the desktop Web actually slipped.