This will help produce more accurate audience estimates and guarantees-- and more importantly, can address major criticism from the likes of Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer of Procter & Gamble, who has complained about the current TV upfront process.
Shimmel tells TV Watch: “The industry has faced a challenge -- especially of the last couple of years -- trying to forecast, using a Nielsen data set and Nielsen panel size that was too small to reflect the fragmentation of the industry.”
He adds: “At the same time, digital media -- connected TV and other platforms -- is growing. And those [channels] have way more precision around how much inventory they have to sell.”
“Going into the upfront, every network needs to provide some upside opportunity, in terms of their selling estimates, to cover some of Nielsen's instability.”
More importantly, with all the new activity around "alternative" currencies, he warns, a major piece is missing. "Nobody is looking at it in terms of increased precision, increased clarity in terms of how much inventory is really left available to sell."
In the past, and currently, he says, the industry looked at "stability" in terms of broad demographics -- like 18-49. That said, "nobody ever thought that a 19-year-old [woman] in college and a 48-year-old woman were worth the same to a marketer. We created those groups to create stability."
The good news is that massive sample sizes by new measurement companies can help marketers.
No longer do marketers need to count on a limited 40,000-home Nielsen panel. Many smart TV-based measurements with data coming from 20 million to 30 million homes can help those more niche marketers -- say, luxury automaker BMW -- reach a more stable, targeted number of potential consumers.
The downside: “None of these measurement companies are going to look like Nielsen... And they are going to look different network by network, genre by genre. We almost need to start and rebase everything -- by provider.”
In Nielsen's favor: It still backs what is important to marketers and media agencies. “It's a commitment to MRC [the Media Rating Council]”, says Shimmel -- the approval of third-party, independent accreditation.
Shimmel adds that Nielsen does a good job in recruitment of a third-party panel as well as the technology around that panel.
Where does he see "alternative" currency measurements landing n this upfront process? "A couple of months ago, I thought maybe 25% could be done off of alternative currencies. I now think that is aggressive. I now think it'll be more like 10% or 15%."
Some of this could come from a demo based on iSpot.tv or an audience based on VideoAmp data, he says.
And how does this affect the marketplace overall? Marketers and media agencies are taking more "aggressive" steps, he says -- and that might push Nielsen "to get their act together."