Nielsen to Include Mobile Viewing in Its Television Ratings

Nielsen confirmed this week that starting in 2014, television ratings and viewership consumed on digital devices will be measurable. The company is currently working on the software developer kit for its clients to make that possible. The move marks a significant change considering that more people are now consuming media on digital devices than they are on traditional TV, and that segment of viewers has been sorely missing in rating calculations.

In a blog post on Nielsen’s site, the company said that the SDK will be ready to put to use in mid-November. According to Megan Clarken, executive vice president and global product leader, the software will be a “single client solution” that supports both linear and dynamic, or TV and Internet, ad models.

“This unified encoding approach for video enables measurement to follow content across screens and ad models,” she said.

The software will differentiate between traditional and online viewing in a couple of ways. For example, if a network has a TV show that’s also available online, but meets the “ad load and timeline requirements” for TV ratings, those viewings will count toward TV ratings. But anything that was originally created for the Web or has dynamic ad insertion or elapsed crediting time will count in Nielsen’s Digital Ratings.

“The best part about this approach is that the patent-pending Nielsen technology behind the SDK will know where to credit the viewing,” the company explains, “because it will analyze the audio watermarks, metadata or tags associated with the content and related advertising.”

The company will also use big data and demographic information from sites like Facebook to be calibrated with Nielsen’s National People Meter panel.

“TV shows live and die by how many people are watching and therefore viewing their advertisements,” CNET wrote about the change. “With so many people now getting their TV fix from the Internet, it’s about time they were more easily incorporated into the always critical Nielsen ratings.”