Overcoming the Challenges in Cross-Platform Measurement. Nielsen’s Megan Clarken Explains It All at the ARF

By Charlene Weisler

Megan Clarken, Nielsen’s Chief Commercial Officer, spoke at the recent ARF on the changing consumer content consumption patterns and the transformation of measurement to meet this evolution.

Nielsen has found that overall media usage is increasing. American adults now spend close to 80 hours of media consumption in a week, which is a remarkable number that has continued to grow over the past 15 years. Live TV is on decline, she pointed out. Consumption rose in time shifted TV, game consoles and use of the computer, said Clarken, adding that smartphone and tablet are also on the rise, especially in playable video. So Nielsen’s focus is increasingly on digital devices and their growth and the changes to the way consumers are watching the TV screen.


Clarken noted that this growth in media consumption is not translating into great benefits for the business at this time.

  • Advertising Growth: Why is advertising not growing at same healthy rate as media consumption rate? “This is a critical issue for our industry,” she stated. It’s because marketing dollars are going to places beyond advertising. “The biggest problem is a problem of trust,” she explained. “We need to work out what it means to advertise.” Trust is a big consideration.
  • Comparability: There is also little comparability cross screens. “Without comparability everyone is a walled garden. TV doesn’t escape this problem and it is confusing to advertisers,” she stated. Without comparability, if you line up all of the collected data, third party measurement will be wrong.
  • Frequency Capping: Companies don’t want to pay for frequency capping or the wrong demographic that is served over and over again because of the walled gardens. “This is a major problem,” she said. “We believe in simplifying the notion of currency. Comparable metrics to monetize brand lift, sales lift, engagement, ROI, attribution and demographics. How many times did they see it? Where did they see it? When did they see it?”

Cross Platform Measurement

As Nielsen is the leader in measurement currency, Clarken recommends the use of impressions for the measurement of devices. “We measure people,” she explained, “and the cost must be palatable. We need consistent cross platform measurement that is comparable and that marketers can trust and avoid waste.” The best way to produce a gold standard cross platform measurement is to start with tagging and counting using a digital ad ratings tag calibrated to a digital ad ratings methodology and an audio watermark for TV that is calibrated to the NPM panel. Then a single-source de-duplication must take place. ”From here we can produce the measurement total ad ratings and total content ratings,” she explained. The result is reporting on computer, television and mobile using only-only-both metrics. “It is an education process, an alignment on comparability and ubiquitous measurement where everyone sees everything. This needs to happen and the ecosystem needs to support it. But if we can’t afford it we will be in trouble,” she concluded.

Between education, money to support efforts and the breaking down of walled gardens, there are enough issues to slow the process. But that would be a mistake, according to Clarken. “We have to go there and we have to go fast or we will miss the advertising spend,” she warned. “We need to get behind people who are doing more and more of the work. We don’t want 80% of market spend going into (marketing) pamphlets.”



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