Television and the way we watch it have come a long way since Nielsen began measuring TV audiences in 1950. Today, the ability to watch our favorite shows at any time and on multiple devices amplifies the need for exceptionally adept and flexible audience measurement capabilities.
And there’s a big reason why Nielsen is synonymous with television audience measurement. We invented it. Since day one, we’ve offered the media industry the expertise it needs to make the best marketing decisions possible. Today, our expansive and representative television measurement services capture video viewing across all screens: television, computers and mobile devices. National and local TV ratings help media companies and brands decide how to spend the nearly $70 billion on TV advertising in the U.S. alone. Ratings are only one of the audience measurement services we provide.
Consumers are changing with the times, and the same goes for us. As technology continues to evolve and media companies try new ways to attract viewers, understanding what consumers are watching—and what they’re watching on—is more important than ever. Today, viewing video is a personal and mobile experience—anytime and anywhere. This media fragmentation is both a challenge and an opportunity.
Our capabilities provide relevant metrics that are necessary to inform successful marketing and programming and drive continued growth. We measure more than 40 percent of the world’s viewing behavior—hundreds of channels, thousands of programs, and millions of viewers. This measurement breadth allows clients to plan programming and advertising for their ideal audience. That great lipstick ad you saw during your favorite reality show—that was no accident—it was informed by big data.
Electronic and proprietary metering technology is at the heart of Nielsen audience measurement. In addition to capturing what channels viewers are watching on each television set in the home, our meters can identify who is watching and when, including “time-shifted” viewing—the watching of recorded programming up to seven days after an original broadcast.
Chosen at random through proven methodology, Nielsen’s U.S. TV families represent a cross-section of representative homes throughout the country. We measure viewing using our national and local people meters, which capture information about what’s being viewed and when, and in the major U.S. markets, specifically who and how many people are watching. We also have TV set meters in many local markets, and we collect more than two million paper diaries from audiences across the country each year during “sweeps”—specific periods during the months of February, May, July and November. To measure video content viewed on mobile devices, we have expanded our panels to incorporate census-style data from third parties in order to capture the breadth and depth of consumer usage.
Nielsen delivers a constant, real-time stream of information, revealing tuning behavior during programs and commercials. We can tell clients which commercials are being watched, as well as which ones have the strongest engagement and impact. We analyze which position in the program or commercial block is most effective for a specific brand and which markets will create the best return on investment for brands.
Knowing how and when to reach prospective consumers is the Holy Grail of audience measurement and helps media companies and brands make the right planning and programming decisions. Choosing what programs will be the biggest hits is still up the consumer, but deep intelligence into viewing behavior can improve both return on investment and brand reputation.