Nielsen is revamping the way it measures digital audiences

Audience measurement company Nielsen announced today that it plans to change the methodology behind its digital products, including Digital Content Ratings, Total Content Ratings, Digital in TV Ratings, Digital Ad Ratings and Total Ad Ratings.

The company plans to start rolling out the new methodology in phases in 2021. It isn’t sharing the full details yet, but the goal is to respond to the ways that regulation, platform shifts and other factors are changing the landscape for user privacy and data collection (for example, the growing browser practice of blocking third-party cookies).

“In the next chapter — even in the current chapter — moving data around is not easy anymore,” Chief Operating Officer Karthik Rao told me. “It takes a talent base, it takes skills, it takes technology, it takes partnering with the right cloud partners.”

Rao suggested that Nielsen is uniquely suited to adapting to this new, more privacy-centric world, partly because of the company’s historic roots in collecting data through consumer panels, which he said are “the most privacy compliant way” to gain “the most robust understanding” of audience and consumer behavior.

“Our ability to understand media behaviors is unparalleled,” he said.

Rao added that Nielsen’s new methodologies will place an additional emphasis on the portability of data and data models, as well as on de-duplicating audiences, so that the firm isn’t inadvertently counting the same people on different platforms.

“I can’t stress enough the need for de-duplication in the industry,” he said. “We wake up thinking about it, it’s the [company’s] new mantra. It’s existed for a long time, but it’s a really important mantra in this evolution, and beyond as well.”