Nielsen is planning major changes to the way it measures video viewing starting in fourth quarter 2022. It’s highly touted Nielsen One offering will use a single metric to measure streaming and linear viewing, allowing advertisers and content providers to look at total video consumption regardless of platform or device. During an investor conference last week, Nielsen CEO Dave Kenny hinted that a similar system may be in development for audio.
The measurement giant will “continue to focus” on audio measurement but “the mix shift” of how it does that is still being developed, Kenny told attendees of the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom conference. Kenny also hinted that Nielsen may be working on a cross-media measurement system similar to the one it plans to roll out next year for video. “I think getting to the equivalent of a Nielsen One in audio is,” Kenny said, before pausing. “We didn’t announce that yet but we’re really working to make sure that the audio business also stays robust and takes advantage of both its digital components and its linear components,” Kenny said in a Q&A with Toni Kaplan, Executive Director of Equity Research at Morgan Stanley.
Measuring the totality of audio listening, whether that occurs on a traditional AM/FM receiver, a mobile device, game consoles, smart TV or other device, would be a big step forward. The amount of audio consumed on digital devices – including AM/FM radio programming – continues to grow, accelerated by the pandemic.
How an audio equivalent of Nielsen One would differ from earlier attempts by Nielsen to measure cross-platform listening isn’t known. After years of development and testing, its SDK measurement approach to streaming audio never got out of the starting gate. Branded as Nielsen Digital Audio Ratings, it relies on meters embedded in the app or mobile web player of stations and their streaming providers. It allows a station to see its entire cross-platform audience, including demographic information, using the same metrics that are used for over-the-air listening. But in late 2016 Nielsen hit the pause button after most of its clients balked, claiming the numbers Nielsen reported didn’t jibe with their own server log files and were lower than those of the MRC-accredited Webcast Metrics product from Triton Digital. Nielsen used the NAB Show in April 2017 to announce a reboot but the system had few takers.
Now the measurement behemoth is attracting some streaming audio clients, including Spotify, and streaming ad revenues continue to climb as audio enjoys a renaissance, thanks in large part to the explosive growth of podcasting.
“We’re having really good discussions with our audio clients and there are new ones coming in, who are digital-only,” Kenny said at the investor conference.“There’s a lot people get out of audio, both linear audio and digital audio is just booming. So we’re going to continue to focus there. We’re finding new ways to sell that value in some of the things we’ve done connecting audience measurement to outcomes so people see how productive audio advertising investments are in helping our clients grow their business. We feel quite good about the potential.”