Nielsen’s best form of defense against Comscore is attack

Audience measurement won flavor of the week as a wave of announcements combined to underscore the industry’s obsession with connected TVs, and rightly so. Rivals Nielsen and Comscore were both in action, while a lesser known name, Ampersand – a TV ad tech firm jointly owned by cable titan trilogy Comcast, Charter and Cox – started trading data with TVSquared.

Intensifying the battle of the measurement giants, Nielsen has finally added Amazon Prime Video to its SVoD Content Ratings platform, two years behind Netflix which was included from the get-go in October 2017. Nielsen’s SVoD Content Ratings platform provides a portal to content viewing patterns and other useful metrics for customers – giving content owners invaluable insights into how their titles are performing as well as the types of audiences being reached – where the likes of Netflix and Amazon don’t provide data directly.

One standout feature is allowing clients to gauge the impact of traditional linear TV advertising in driving viewers to SVoD programs.

It comes with a couple of caveats, however, as the Nielsen SVoD Content Ratings tool only measures content consumption on connected TVs, excluding the enormous pool of data from mobile and desktop viewing. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, with connected TV usage in the US embraced by approximately 57.2% of the population today, rising sharply from 51.7% in 2017, according to eMarketer. The other downside is that SVoD Content Ratings is currently limited to US viewing but, again, this isn’t a major flaw. When the demand is there, Nielsen will begin including international SVoD data in its ratings tool.

According to eMarketer, buyers are paying as much as an astronomical $28 per thousand impressions (CPM) for the connected TV advertising privilege. For a little context, this time last year the average CPM across the Google Display Network sat at $2.80 – from an analysis of over 760 million ad impressions and nearly 3 million clicks. Even with this particular measure up by $1 year on year, connected TV advertising is making the ad duopoly (Google and Facebook) come across distinctly untrendy in comparison.

Clearly then the inexorable rise of connected TV viewing – providing brands with a platform for reaping the benefits of personalization and measurement through IP-delivered video on the home’s primary screen – is a market reserved exclusively for the high rollers of the industry. This is for now, anyway, although the study cited programmatic ad technology vendor Amobee, which has apparently observed CPMs gradually declining as more ad inventory comes through.

James Petretti, Sony Pictures Television’s SVP of US research and analytics, is impressed. “Nielsen has the ability to help us understand what these audiences are doing outside of those platforms as well as how and what they are watching on other on-demand and linear services,” he commented.

This comes at a time when Nielsen itself has fallen from its former grace as its base has been increasingly eroded by rivals, especially ComScore, which secured a measurement deal for Premion this week, an OTT advertising platform owned by US broadcast and marketing services firm Tegna.

Premion enables local advertisers to reach audiences across OTT services, focusing on long-form and premium content with emphasis on connected TVs. Comscore’s Campaign Ratings product, its flagship cross-platform video ad measurement tool, will support Premion’s ad network to offer an unduplicated view of total audiences across linear TV and digital platforms.

Premion now claims to own the industry’s largest and most accurate connected TV device graph, built from 108 million connected households comprising 600 million devices. This gregarious graph is geared towards providing precision targeting and reach across every designated market area. It was created to reconnect regional and local advertisers with designated market areas across ad-supported OTT video services – advertisers that have been slipping through the cracks as a result of device and platform fragmentation.

Big cable is also tightening some screws. TVSquared, known for driving campaign performance products like Comcast’s Instant Impact using attribution data, is now integrated with the Ampersand platform to improve TV performance.

Ampersand is the product of an announcement from April 2018 stating that a data-driven video advertising unit will launch later this year within NCC Media, the cable media group owned by Comcast, Charter and Cox Communications. Comcast’s Media 360 advertising arm will combine resources with the partner firms to design, deploy and sell unified ad solutions across NCC’s footprint in the US, delivering targeted audiences across linear and VoD platforms – using non-personally identifiable data and targeting capabilities. Comcast should just go ahead and acquire TVSquared already.