Opportunities and Challenges for Total Audience Measurement in Japan

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TV audience measurement has a long history, starting with Nielsen’s initial measuring of TV viewership in the U.S. more than 50 years ago. However, in the fall of 2016, following the recent rise of digital TV and online streaming, a significant advancement in TV measurement emerged. First, Nielsen launched “Total Audience Measurement” in the U.S. market, which integrated traditional TV viewing measurement with digital viewership across platforms. Next, in Japan, Video Research officially launched its measurement of time-shift TV viewing in Japan’s Kanto region.

\In line with the recent advances in TV measurement, this article aims to introduce a case involving Total Audience Measurement within the U.S., in order to help us understand key points of importance for future implementation in Japan.

Changes in viewing behavior have led the measurement of Total Audience

In Japan, young people are watching less traditional TV, with a similar situation happening in the U.S. We are in the midst of a paradigm shift in media viewing. In particular, the rapid growth of mobile devices and streaming video-on-demand (SVOD) usage has fundamentally changed the viewing behavior of young people, more specifically, those aged 18 to 34. The population of this “millennial” age group is relatively larger than other age groups, and are expected to make up a key source of consumption and spending power in the future.

Tech-savvy millenials have grown up alongside the advent of digital technologies, easily integrating their use into everyday life. Unsurprisingly, it’s this demographic that has quickly shifted from traditional TV to SVOD. When comparing Nov 2014 and Nov 2015, a key time period where smart-devices usage saw fast penetration growth, millennial TV viewership shows a large decrease when compared with other age brackets. On the other hand, we can see a strong increase in audiences of digital devices such as PC, tablet, smartphones and TV-connected devices. Smartphone is the clear winner as it shows a larger audience increase than all other devices combined.

In order for the future growth of the industry, total audience measurement, which integrates a variety of viewing behavior that is not reflected in traditional TV ratings, has become imperative to accurately measuring the viewing behavior of today’s modern consumer.

The Concept of total audience measurement

Total audience measurement is a methodology developed to enable the measurement of content, as well as advertising, using comparable metrics across different devices and platforms. By accurately measuring both content, such as TV programs, and the on-target rate of digital advertising, total audience measurement offers a comprehensive and precise evaluation of viewership. “Nielsen Total Audience”, launching in 2017, measures viewing from PC and mobile devices, time-shift viewing with DVR, game consoles, and TV-connected devices, in addition to traditional real-time TV viewing. Additionally, measurement data delivers the total audience data while also eliminating duplications that may occur from a single consumer viewing the same content or advertising on different devices.

Leveraging big data to implement total audience measurement

In order to implement total audience measurement, it is critical to understand digital viewing behavior through various devices and platforms while also ensuring the accuracy and reliability of data. Traditionally, a research panel of consumers would be required for the implementation; however, considering the today’s media fragmentation, research conducted by a traditional representative panel is unable to measure viewing on all devices and platforms. To solve this problem, Nielsen is cooperating with key industry partners with comprehensive user databases. Nielsen’s current cooperation with Facebook is a key example, as Facebook is a massive social network with the majority of users registering accurate demographic information.

There are 180 million Facebook users in the U.S, and after detailed personal information is removed and data privacy is ensured, the general demographic user data can be leveraged as a large scale research panel. Of course, it’s unavoidable that some users provide Facebook with inaccurate personal or user information. Therefore, in addition to Facebook’s user data, Nielsen is improving accuracy by calibrating with Nielsen’s own representative panel. This hybrid-panel methodology enables data bias to be measured and adjusted for and that reliability can be ensured.

Challenges to implement total audience measurement in Japan

While total audience measurement will offer a comprehensive picture of the market, Japan is still facing two key challenges to implementation:

1. Individual TV ratings or household TV ratings

In the U.S., both individual ratings and household TV ratings are provided. Digital audience measurement is made up of individual data, so it is fairly easy to integrate TV and digital viewership ratings when individual measurement data is available. However, in Japan, only household ratings are used, meaning that as of now, individual ratings are still a challenge to integrate in TV ratings.

2. National market or local market

Digital audience measurement is generally targeted nationwide because users can access the internet anywhere and getting geographic locations of internet users can be difficult.  In Japan, measuring by local market is standard. The issue of location measurement in TV ratings needs to be resolved in order to properly implement total audience measurement.

With Japan’s media fragmentation in a similar situation to that of the U.S., and the media landscape in constant change, measurement solutions will need to adapt quickly. By using the model of total audience measurement in the U.S., Japan can learn and introduce a solution that takes from the example of the U.S. while also adapting to local requirements.  Nielsen is continuing to work with key partners like Video Research to develop a solution that considers the unique environment of Japan, while ensuring a global standard of reliability and accuracy.

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