Accurate audience measurement remains one of the peskiest problems marketers face when doing cross-platform campaigns. There are numerous platforms to place ads on, and the reporting about each is anything but interoperable. Companies specializing in this kind of reporting have been trying to make their offerings more robust, and today Nielsen announced a new partnership with Google that adds one very key integration: YouTube’s mobile audience.
Essentially, what this means is that Nielsen’s Total Ad Ratings–which lets marketers rank how well their ads perform across platforms–will include YouTube’s mobile audience. Before, Nielsen didn’t have access to this data. The hope for marketers is that this could lead to better campaign measurement, as Total Ad Ratings theoretically makes it possible to more easily compare TV and digital ads.
The addition of YouTube mobile to this Nielsen product illustrates the increasing shift to over-the-top TV viewership, especially on smartphones. Viewers are turning to multiple digital platforms beyond TV–including Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Facebook, etc. Many of these users are consuming content on their mobile devices, adding another technical complication to the mix.
Over the last few years, platforms, publishers, and marketers have turned increasingly to these digital video platforms, with mixed results. While eyeballs are undoubtedly going to non-TV programming, figuring out how best to monetize it has proved problematic. Imperfect–and sometimes flat-out incorrect–measurement only compounds these issues. With this announcement, Nielsen is trying to differentiate itself as a more authoritative source for cross-platform analytics.
As more OTT offerings become mainstream, and marketers continue to invest in these platforms, these kinds of all-in-one measurement services make sense. Still, it’s likely that the entire industry is in for a rude awakening down the line, once it becomes clear how much of the digital world is bolstered by misrepresented data and automated views. So even with more universal metrics across platforms, the digital ad world’s house of cards may soon collapse.
Correction: The headline has been changed to reflect that the Google integration is with YouTube mobile.