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Nielsen expands TV measurement panel, but minute-by-minute ratings remain elusive

ThinkTV has announced the New Zealand TV Peoplemeter panel in Nielsen’s Television Audience Measurement will be expanding from 600 to 900 households, the equivalent of 1,500 to 2,250 individuals, in an effort to improve the insight into changing viewing behaviour.

The change to the panel, which representatives of the entire New Zealand population, will be progressively implemented from February to September 2018 and as the range of video viewing options continues to increase, the expansion will pave the way for integrated video viewing audience measurement across broadcast and online.

Nielsen’s development of both television and online video audience measurement through panels and online tracking tools is state of the art audience measurement says Caroline Atford, executive director of media at Nielsen New Zealand.

“The panel expansion is key to delivering more robust, granular measurement to the New Zealand market and sets the foundations for a future-proof total video audience measurement solution, across all screens and devices,” she says.

Louise Bond, chair of the Commercial Communications Council, is equally positive, saying the panel expansion is great news for advertisers and agencies.

“Accurate media measurement is at the core of our industry and this panel expansion reflects the need to continuously improve our measurement processes for both individual media channels and is a critical step to accurate audience measurement across channels. We’ll continue to work closely with Nielsen and the Television Broadcasters Group to develop our total video measurement capability.”

ANZA is also welcoming the increase in the size of the TV audience panel with the view that it’s a step toward integrating video and TV audiences in a single measure.

The technology to do that is moving fast and ANZA CEO Lindsay Mouat says he would like to see a commitment for cross-platform video audiences happen sooner rather than later.

Giving the example of Norway, a similar sized market that already has a cross-platform measure including TV and video viewed out-of-home, as well as other countries that have introduced fused panels, Mouat believes New Zealand should be able to do the same—and well before 2022, when the new Nielsen contract ends.

However, ANZA has expressed some disappointment in the announcement as broadcasters haven’t addressed what he sees as the fundamental weakness in TV audience reporting in New Zealand: the absence minute-by-minute audience measurement.

“For years, broadcasters have argued that the sample size of Peoplemeter homes in this market has been too small to accurately report audience on a 60-second basis,” says Mouat.

He says that barrier is now to be removed and the sample size will be consistent with other countries of similar size, yet, it’s still expected to rely on 15-minute average audiences.

“New Zealand is effectively the only developed market where this occurs. We all know that TV audience data for ad breaks is overstated inflated because of this and it’s time for broadcasters to provide greater transparency.”

The announcement of the panel expansion follows the extension of Nielsen’s contract to supply ratings to the New Zealand market to 2022. The decision was reached by the New Zealand Television Broadcasters Group in conjunction with the Commercial Communications Council after considering responses from global audience measurement companies.

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