The Exciting Evolution of Nielsen and Comcast

Last week’s announcement of Nielsen partnership with Comcast to integrate data from set top boxes of the nation’s largest MSO in local market measurement is an exciting prospect. When combined with Nielsen’s other measurement assets (Dish Network, AT&T/DirecTV, Charter/Spectrum as well as a boost in existing Nielsen panels) this is a far cry from LPMs, set top measurement and diaries currently in play. For those of us who recall the ancient days of only 4 local surveys per year – coupled with manually creating estimates and schedules ON PAPER – its going to be a cornucopia of timely info. The potential of this wealth of data will hopefully result in 1) far more insight into the qualitative aspects of programming  2) an updated profile of viewers, in particular the more elusive such as men and younger targets, and 3) undiscovered nuances in dayparts and programming that allow us to be more accurate – and creative – in reaching our clients’ audiences.  


Of course, this evolution will have its critics. But so did the advent of set top household meter, local people meter, personal people meter and code reader technologies. Some will have concerns about the attribution of viewing trends in the former diary-only markets, others will question the validity of resulting audience figures, some may suspect a conspiracy between the traditional linear content channels. But if history demonstrates anything, the “new normal” arriving later in 2018 will become status quo.   Like the advances mentioned earlier, there will be growing pains and it will take time to establish what is the norm.   


One challenge to agencies and media will be to project with a strong degree of certainty any impact on CPPs and CPMs. Along with this, it will be crucial to make sure we are carefully watching the initial data and anticipating changes to what we have seen historically and how we advise clients about any fluctuations. Again, this transition is nothing new to those of us who’ve weathered the evolution of media measurement through the years. At the end of the day, if we as an industry can provide our clients with improved accuracy, improved targeting and more sophistication in reaching their prospects, this should be a good thing.