Thursday, March 13, 2008

Notice to age 18-30 viewers; Luddites resisting your influence

It is ironic that we are seeing headlines in the "media ad press" (here and here) indicating resistance to Nielsen's proposed A2/M2 integrated television and internet measurement. The irony is that reports of these Luddites are appearing on the day that rolls out for the general public. According to one newsletter (notice the use of the word "claims" rather than, say, "explains":

“Television today is no longer a distinct medium, but a form of information and entertainment that connects multiple platforms and reaches audiences at every possible touch point,” the Nielsen website claims. “With our Anytime Anywhere Media Measurement (A2/M2) strategy, we acknowledge again Nielsen’s important responsibility to the television industry. We recognize that a well-measured medium is a more valuable medium. And we understand that our measurements of emerging technologies will help the industry develop new business models.”

Nielsen wants a test this year. They ran into resistance in that few of the 14,000 test households were comfortable having their privacy infringed upon. So this year's test will be 375 households. If the test is successful, Nielson will expand its program in July 2009. Now they have to cope with resistance to the test from their customers - the folks who decide what TV programming wins the ad funding battle.

OK. I agree that the test data this year will be too limited for media buyer general use. But, to mix metaphors don't "stick your head in the sand" by thinking the Nielsen proposal is some dangerous "camels nose in the tent" that should be resisted. The Nielsen folks have it right. In case no one has noticed, total tv viewing is dropping, particularly in that all important 18-to-whatever younger category. (That doesn't include me, of course.) They're the same group that extensively use DVRs and are viewing video on the internet (you know, those "pipes" extending around the world).

Get with the program. As I explained in detail before, in the home entertainment business it's 1948 all over again with today's network broadcast tv being comparable to the old network broadcast radio. In less than ten years from 2008, broadcast tv will radically change from today as much as broadcast radio changed between 1948 and 1958.

Oh yeah, by the way Nielsen folks. By now we ought to be seeing daily the live-plus-7-day ratings, including cable channels. This should be reported in the media press right along with the "fast affiliate ratings". Why is that not happening? I know what we in our home are doing with our DVRs, and it appears from the occasional tidbit of information available that a lot of others are doing the same. The networks are making decisions about canceling shows we don't watch in the live+1 window, but always watch within 7 days. That's their choice. But the Nielsen Company has too much influence to not be transparent enough to allow us TV viewers to compare ratings results with our own viewing habits.

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