Nielsen Says New Tool Predicts Who's Watching CTV Programs Within Households, In Real Time

Nielsen has launched a solution designed to allow media buyers and sellers to predict, in real time, which members within a household are watching specific programs on connected TV (CTV).

Nielsen says that the tool, Streaming Signals, will help advertisers optimize ad targeting and CTV ad spend efficiency, and help media owners maximize revenue by being able to more accurately package ad inventory.

The tool uses custom machine learning algorithms, viewing from Nielsen’s panel data, and CTV provider viewership data to instantly assign person-level demographics. Participating CTV providers will notify the Nielsen system and receive a signal containing information identifying who is most likely watching within the household.

The CTV provider will then have the option of replacing a planned ad with one potentially more suited to the individuals watching a program, which will presumably improve the on-target percentage metric traditionally used by marketers in evaluating CTV advertising.

For example, says Nielsen, if “Sons of Anarchy” is being watched within a household, the 35-year-old male likely watching the show can be shown an auto ad instead of a yogurt ad.

The new tool “brings a layer of unmatched real-time, person-level demographic precision to audience optimization,” stated Ameneh Atai, general manager digital and advanced TV at Nielsen.

Nielsen claims that when the new tool is combined with Nielsen Digital Ad Ratings, which show who was reached by age and gender during CTV advertising campaigns, Streaming Signals allows users to measure CTV reach more accurately, as well as optimize targeting.

Nielsen is in the midst of trying to rebuild trust by working to regain Media Ratings Council accreditation for its national and local television services, which was suspended after the MRC determined that Nielsen had reported inaccurate viewership data during the COVID pandemic. 

At the same time, the measurement firm is on the verge of launching the first stage of its Nielsen One multimedia audience measurement system, and introducing a major change in the way it calculates U.S. audience estimates by adding viewing from broadband-only households and shifting to an impressions-based currency.

The new Streaming Signals product “is certainly a step in the right direction for Nielsen, but they still have a lot of work to do — as with any new launch, there are going to be questions of validity and accuracy," Stephen Strong, co-founder and chief business officer at media and technology company Origin, observed to The Drum.

“This particular product does help fill clear gaps within the CTV space,” he said. “Moving from household to individual user on CTV is important, and this product helps increase innovation and provide more granularity around viewership, as there is greater access to data in a real-time way — so it is actionable immediately."

However, Strong added that “companies like TVision have had products that distinguish who is actually watching on a CTV device for a while.”

In November, Nielsen sued TVision, claiming that its “eyes on the screen” TV measurement technology infringes on two Nielsen patents, including one for capturing images of the area in front of a television screen and analyzing them to determine the number of people present. (Nielsen also sued HyphaMetrics,claiming its system for determining whether a device or smart TV is on oroff infringes on Nielsen’s home meter system.)

3 comments about "Nielsen Says New Tool Predicts Who's Watching CTV Programs Within Households, In Real Time".
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  1. Jonathan May from HorseTV Global, January 5, 2022 at 11:15 a.m.

    The operative word here is "predict" rather than than "measure."  A two year old could tell you that more men are watching Sons of Anarchy, and more women are watching Dr. Pimple Popper.  Seems to be a desparate move to try and stay relevant, but at the end of the day, it's nothing more than a prediction- a flat out guess based on assumptions a child could make.  And now they are devopling deeply invasive technology to image who is in front of the TV.  Better take the TV out of the bathroom.  No shame apparently about viewing and imaging the interior of your home apparently.

  2. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, January 5, 2022 at 11:30 a.m.

    As I see it, even though Nielsen could adopt a TVision-like "eye camera" approach to determine who is "watching" CTV commercials it knows that the findings would reveal that not many are "watching" and no time seller is going to support such a service. So, rather than creating a people meter-type panel where each household member indicates that he/she is--- or is not--- watching a program when it is selected, this approach employs that old, relaible, standby---device usage coupled with statistical guessing to tell us "who watched"---probably on the assumption that virtually all "program viewers" also watch all commercials. Which is nonsense---but gives the sellers those big, inflated "audience" numbers they love so much. In fairness to Nielsen, perhaps I'm overstating the case and some indicator of whether a guesstimated program viewer actually was in the room and watching when a commercial was on the screen is part of the system. That would make the guesswork more palatable. And by the way, how was this system validated?

  3. John Grono from GAP Research replied, January 5, 2022 at 4:24 p.m.

    I agree Jonathan.   Nielsen should stick with 'measuremet' and leave the guesswork to others.

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