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6 September 2018

Nielsen video analytics is more of a mobile people meter

It turns out we got something of the wrong end of the stick when reporting the Nielsen subsidiary Gracenote entering the video analytics market in our last issue, suggesting that it was a new market entry from out of the blue – in fact it goes back to a company Telephia it acquired 11 years ago.

And it’s not exactly video analytics as we understand it, offering control over Quality of Service in OTT video. “That’s purely an operational tool,” said Mike Greenawald, Senior Vice President, Connectivity for Gracenote, talking to us this week, “Our product is far more strategic than that.”

Well it depends upon your point of view, but technically the difference is that companies like Conviva put an agent inside an App on your phone and have to have a one to one relationship with the supplier of that App. It has a tight integration with the media player and observes all of its behavior, to report back to the OTT delivery network the condition of video as it arrives. What Gracenote has done is written a single application which runs on the OS, using open source APIs provided by Apple and Google, which watches each and every app on your phone. While it will not offload up to 200 different data types for what happens purely in one media player, it can offer you a comparison with how all the apps perform, how often they are loaded and how long they are used for.

What Nielsen has to do however is get this onto a phone, and instead of it going in on the back of an app, as we suggested, it is downloaded voluntarily by a panel, rather like the Nielsen idea of TV Audience Measurement systems such as its People Meter, and it reports back on which apps people use, and how they perform. It might well send back data on a couple of hundred transaction types, but that’s across the entire device – not inside a single app.

“This gives us competitive benchmarking,” said Greenawald, “we can measure connectivity, engagement with each app, the length of a Netflix session, how long they spend on YouTube, how well Comcast and DirecTV video Apps are being used, anything.” It uses a panel of between 70,000 and 100,000 devices to represent the entire US population of iOS and Android handsets.

The purpose of all this is for tier 1 ISPs and mobile customers to buy access to this data and improve the way their customers engage with their offerings – video or not. Nielsen creates a dashboard which integrates into the operator’s marketing tools or storefront or cloud management software. The moves into this space is squarely aimed at driving the services revenues of the emerging MVPDs in the US market.

We speculated at the time that Nielsen might use this to measure advertising engagement on handsets, and while this remains a possibility, it was not on Greenawald’s immediate list of target, “This is about driving service revenues,” which right now means subscriptions – but later may come to mean advertising as well.

One of the things preventing mobile advertising being valued at the highest end of the advertising scale is because there is so much fraud in reporting video advertising views, and in being certain that the adverts are shown around brand safe content. And an app like this cold certainly stretch to that in the long run we think.