Nielsen’s continuing premise is that third-party validation is is still important. And much of that comes with its longtime Nielsen panel.
“You still need real people to validate, which is why we have a panel -- not as the sole data source -- but a panel to validate,” says David Kenny, CEO of Nielsen Holdings, speaking at the Alliance Bernstein event recently. “There are inevitable errors you don’t catch without validation.”
For example, Kenny says there is a “big percentage” of set-top box data that isn’t tied to viewing. The box may be on long after someone’s TV set is actually off.
You also need to correct for de-duplication, “which you wouldn’t see if you only get information from individual streams.” And for many digital platforms, you need to go deeper. “You also need person-level data, not just device data.”
The growing premium video streaming world -- a push by big legacy TV/media companies -- benefits from panel-base results.
Kenny says May data roughly shows 40% of viewing comes from cable TV networks, 25% from broadcast, 25% from streaming -- with the rest coming from all other connected TV device/video game players.
“With streaming, we can certainly know what platform people are on,” he says. “But do actually know what they watch? You have to use ACR [automatic content recognition] data.”
“So getting all those feeds from the streaming platforms, coupled with our own panels, you are able to understand at the show level, what they are watching... It’s important for the subscription business and the advertising business for the total view.”
Kenny also understands the need for continuous data from multiple sources. “Over time, there will be more and more ways to understand this.” Data then needs to come back to one standing position. And that’s where new identifiers (IDs) comes in, he says.
Much of this looks to combat the typical refrain about Nielsen in general, that Todd Juenger, media analyst at Bernstein Research, reiterated during the interview with Kenny. “Nielsen's traditional TV customers are dying, and the future digital customers don't need them -- or, at least, not as much.”
The bottom-line answer seems to be you still need it all -- perhaps more. This goes for digital players competing for ad dollars against legacy media and for legacy owners of big new premium services that still need to know who is consuming their content.