Nielsen Delays Use Of Big Data For 'Transaction Purposes'

Nielsen has postponed approval of its ‘Big Data’ data -- viewing information from set-top boxes and smart TVs -- “for transaction purposes,” which will be included in its national TV ratings service beginning next month, according to the company.

According to a company spokesperson, the data will still be available for “general analysis.”

In a statement, Nielsen says: “As we work to ensure the best quality and stability of the data during this transition, we have made the decision to delay using this data for transaction purposes.” Nielsen would not comment to Television News Daily whether it needed to consider other methods to improve overall stability.

The Big Data inclusion -- which includes more granular set-top-box and smart TV viewing data -- is supposed to be a preliminary step to Nielsen starting its major new cross-media measurement service, Nielsen One.



The company says Nielsen One is still scheduled to launch a year from now -- September 2023.

Nielsen has had its share of problems in transitioning to a new cross-media world, which includes growing streaming TV and digital video viewing.

Separate from this, Nielsen also suffered from a number of missteps, including undercounting of TV viewing during the heights of the pandemic due to its technicians being unable to enter some 40,000 Nielsen panel TV homes for regular maintenance. Last September, the Media Rating Council issued suspensions of Nielsen's accreditation for its national and local TV services.

In March of this year, Sean Cunningham, chief executive officer of VAB, in a statement, said:

“The VAB had high hopes for Big Data being a big leap forward in what Nielsen’s measurement and currency can bring to marketers, but after in-depth analysis it’s clear to us that this first data set is rife with serious problems.”

This story has been updated

4 comments about "Nielsen Delays Use Of Big Data For 'Transaction Purposes'".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, August 26, 2022 at 7:49 a.m.

    The VAB is right to examine very closely the findings of the big data panel merger with the old people meter results---but it was inevitable that there would be discrepancies that are difficult to explain. More to the point, as far as I am aware none of the STB or ACR panels that are in use have been vetted by the MRC as to how they are recruited or maintained, how the data is processed, what weightings are used, etc. so it's not surprising that Nielsen is having problems "marrying" the big data panel findings with its people meter ratings. Already we have seen examples of big data findings---all based on set usage,  not viewing----that are highly questionable. Often the two---set usage and viewing---produce very different results regarding time spent with TV, program type preferences and, most important, the demographic profile of each show's audience.

    While it's easy to castigate Nielsen for this delay, I suspect that in reality, Nielsen is simply acting responsibly and trying to resolve problems before unleashing its new rating system on a waiting time buying and selling world. If I'm right about that, then let's cut Nielsen a break---TV is too important to be saddled with bad research---even it its from a huge sample that produces more "stable" findings for low rated shows. The media world will survive a short delay---providing a reasonable solution is found. If not, then we can start the process of devising a better TV rating service plan all over again.

  2. M Cohen from marshall cohen associates, August 26, 2022 at 2:32 p.m.


    What happened to..."In a move that shocked almost everyone in the media research community, Nielsen has postponed approval of its ‘Big Data’ data..."

  3. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, August 26, 2022 at 3:45 p.m.

    I wasn't shocked that they are running into trouble in their attempt to orchestrate a shotgun wedding between un-vetted, set usage based big data panels and what they've been doing.  I am surprised that they allowed data to go out---even if it wasn't being used for buying and selling---if the discrepancies were so great. Seems like begging for trouble to me.

  4. John Grono from GAP Research, August 26, 2022 at 6:21 p.m.

    Ed you make many valid observations, especially about the variance between viewing and set usage.   The dog is probably the biggest 'viewer' in our house.

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