Nielsen OOH TV Viewing Integration into National TV - Let's Not

Written by MHP on Tuesday, July 28, 2020

By Patrick Pipkin, Media Director

Earlier this month, Nielsen announced that it would continue to move forward with the integration of out-of-home (OOH) TV viewing into existing national TV measurement. In fact, earlier the same week, Nielsen had announced plans to temporarily forego combining these two data streams over concerns about wide variances in viewing patterns during the COVID-19 crisis. Clearly this was barely a tap to the breaks, as they are pushing forward again. The controversy is worth a deeper dive and is, to media nerds like myself, a crucial conversation for the industry.



The 4A’s recently challenged Nielsen’s decision to move forward yet again, and I agree with that challenge. Here’s why:

1. The pre-negotiation of upfront deals doesn’t make for a strong rationale to move forward with a flawed measurement system.

Just because there are business deals predicated on the new measurement doesn’t make that measurement accurate or valuable. 

2. This new measurement hasn’t been audited or accredited by the MRC (Media Rating Council). Industry standards call this step ground zero before full implementation. Buyers and advertisers rely on the accuracy of these data to analyze audiences and negotiate pricing. Lack of accreditation leaves media buyers and advertisers without the tools needed to effectively negotiate pricing and maintain market values. 

3. The impact of COVID-19 can still be seen across the board in consumer behavior and media consumption habits, especially in areas such as OOH TV viewing like in restaurants and bars. This makes forecasting using historical data extremely difficult and inaccurate. By combining two very different viewing patterns in the midst of the pandemic, we’re further diluting the measurement and making it even harder to calculate an accurate forecast. 

4. Engagement and attention habits vary widely between in-home and OOH viewing even without a pandemic. Combining the two gives an unrealistic picture and faulty measurement. As the foundation for major media spends and the livelihood of brands, we are left standing on sand. 


My opinion? If industry giants fail to create and provide accurate data, we risk the very foundation of media. Nielsen should pause, refine their approach and provide a more transparent measurement process that doesn’t combine the two inherently different media consumption styles. 


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