#AdvancedAd 2016: Total Audience a ‘Framework’

Clarken Says Up to Buyers, Advertisers to Change Currency
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New York – Nielsen’s long-awaited Total Audience measurement product is expected to revolutionize the TV business once it becomes widely available later this year, but president of global products Megan Clarken told an industry audience that it is up to media buyers and advertisers to use the tools provided by the product to change the way ads are bought and sold.

Nielsen’s Total Audience product is currently being used on a proprietary basis by about 100 clients, Clarken said at the Multichannel News/B&C Advanced Advertising Summit here Tuesday. Those clients are evaluating the data provided by the product and are expected to be comfortable enough to share their own data with other clients using the data sets by late in Q2 or early in Q3 this year.

While Total Audience is expected to give advertisers and programmers a more detailed and accurate look into how todays viewers are watching content across devices and platforms, it isn’t a magic bullet.

“What it is, is a framework,” Clarken said at a keynote session moderated by Multichannel News/B&C editorial director Mark Robichaux. Total Audience serves four purposes: as a tool to measure audiences across devices and platforms; as a comparable measure of digital, traditional TV and time-shifted TV; as a tool to measure ads separately from content; and as a ratings service that no longer is just the domain of traditional broadcasters, that includes digital, video, audio and text providers to use the same language for the first time.

But any revolution is going to first require that the currency rules change.

Clarken said that under the current currency rules, Nielsen must provide data up to seven days after original air with no change to the ad load. But, she said, once advertisers, buyers and networks see the Total Audience data, the benefits of expanding something as simple as the programming window become evident. “Once they see that data, that on the sixth week of a dramatic series my audience has grown 38% outside that 7-day window … we’ll be able to have a different set of conversations.”

Nielsen recently added set-top box data to its Total Audience mix, with its deal with satellite TV service provider Dish Network. Clarken said the inclusion of set-top data, combined with Nielsen’s panel information, creates a more accurate viewing picture.

“In a world where fragmentation is becoming greater and greater, it’s hard for panels on their own to find all these audiences,” Clarken said. “We need to be able to use big data and data sets, particularly around the long-tail, local markets and DMAs with small audiences, using that big data to correct that.”

Clarken said that while big data alone won’t paint the most accurate picture of viewing patterns. For example, with set-top data, an advertiser is only sure that a content streamed was delivered to the home, not who is watching or even if the TV set is on. Adding panel information fleshes out the data and makes it more representative.

Clarken said that the Nielsen team is working toward the eventual wider roll out of Total Audience, but also has other irons in the fire for the future.

“One of the places you will see us spend time is the acquisition of software provisions that bring the data to life; how do you make that data come to life in a planning cycle,” Clarken said. “We have so many assets we haven’t brought to the table.”

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