CIMM Gears Up For Challenge Of Measuring Kids And Teens

The measurement of TV viewers under 18 has always been somewhat of a challenge. The task has become even more complicated with the fragmentation of media, since younger viewers especially are using their devices for a range of media consumption behavior.

CIMM (the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement) just announced a new committee on children and teens’ measurement that, according to CIMM CEO Jane Clarke, is tasked “with the goal of providing a higher level of urgency and importance to improving cross-platform, digital and mobile measurement (for both content and ads) among children and teens ages two to 17.” The committee has approached both comScore and Nielsen with RFPs to see what measurement approaches they recommend.

The challenge of cross-platform measurement is compounded for those under 18 years old because of the way they use all viewing devices, including for gaming, social media and TV co-viewing. There are also the legal limitations in reaching and measuring young, impressionable consumers because of COPPA, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which requires parental consent in order to report personally identifiable information collected from people under the age of 13.



All this means that measurement of children and teens requires either the development of an opt-in calibrated panel or accurate ascription of demographics. But even ascription can be problematic. In some cases, measurement companies are collecting significant amounts of traffic data that is unreportable because measurement companies can't use the third-party data without parental permission.

Some of the major measurement companies face some aspect of this problem. As Clarke explains, ”Nielsen can’t report Facebook data for those under 18 due to the MRC and COPPA, and comScore doesn’t report any digital data that it can’t attribute to a demographic group.”

There are a range of questions and issues in measuring those 2 to 17, from the logistical ("How do you gain parental approval to measure children’s usage of media?") to the ethical ("What about privacy on individual devices?"). Then there are practical questions like “What data would be most valuable, and how would we get it?" “Is passive capturing of data possible, and if so, how?” and “How will you capture co-viewing and channel decision-making?” When it comes down to it, the big question is “Where do you start?”

“Protecting children’s privacy while providing sufficient third-party data that can be used for planning/buying/selling media across devices/platforms is the main challenge,” said Marc Normand, vice president of research, Disney media sales & marketing and a member of the committee. “We each have our own first-party data, but we need a third-party measurement company to validate the data and put it in competitive context.”

Another committee member, Mark Loughney, Turner vice president of research, young adults ad sales, agreed. “We and our advertising partners need to know more about the demographic characteristics of who is watching,” he said. “From our first-party data, we know how much content and how many ads we are serving, but we don’t know who the content and ads are reaching. ”

Time is of the essence. Even now, as this next upfront gets underway, media companies that target kids and teens have limited data to show, especially in the cross-platform environment where those young digital natives are most active.

2 comments about "CIMM Gears Up For Challenge Of Measuring Kids And Teens".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, February 24, 2015 at 5:15 p.m.

    A good beginning might be to see how accurate the TV ratings for children and teens are under the peoplemeter system. How many of the "viewing" entries are made by the youngsters, themselves ,and how many are made by their parents or other surrogates? Is "viewing by kids overstated or understated in these scenarios? And what about the assumed "exposure" to commercials? How valid is this data, relative to similar projections for adults? To repeat myself, before we assume that the only issue is cross-platform measurement perhaps we should take a serious look at Nielsen's TV rating system, and how well it measures children and teen viewing?

  2. Charlene Weisler from Writer, Media Consultant:, February 25, 2015 at 4:20 p.m.

    Hi Ed, That is a good point and one that might not only be assessed by Nielsen but also by those companies that rely on Nielsen measurement of those under 18.

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