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Old 01-06-2009   #1
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Nielsen people meters for digital TV - ick?!

National IDs, GPS in vehicles, now metered TVs. How could George Orwell have been so right, and so long ago?

Nielsen Pauses LPM Rollout

Dec 17, 2008
-By Katy Bachman

Nielsen has decided to hit the pause button on the rollout of its local people meters once it completes the installation of the local TV ratings service in the top 25 markets. In a letter to clients dated Tuesday (Dec. 16), Nielsen cited the economy as the reason for slowing down its plans to replace its meter/diary methodology with LPMs in all 56 markets.

So far, Nielsen has rolled out LPMs in 18 markets. In 2009, six additional markets will make the transition to the LPM service; Orlando, Sacramento and St. Louis, in January; and Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Portland, Ore. in July. Charlotte, originally scheduled for Oct. 2009, will be rolled back until Jan. 2010.

TV stations, facing double digit revenue drops in 2009, are looking to find cost savings in every aspect of their business, including research.

"We all face a very challenging economic climate. Our clients have made it clear that we need to work closely with them to establish the right pacing of LPM rollouts, determine the right business model in light of current market conditions, and identify the most appropriate people meter technology for these midsize markets," Nielsen said.

Nielsen's Brave New World

Under pressure, ratings giant unveils futuristic gizmos to measure TV-viewing

By Joe Mandese -- Broadcasting & Cable, 2/21/2005


One of the hottest new products is a talking meter, which Nielsen has begun installing in the homes of employees to study how the devices work, how people interact with them and whether they lead to better audience measurement.

Unlike Nielsen's current generation of people meters, on which flashing lights prompt viewers to register what they are viewing, the talking meters can literally hold a conversation with viewers, asking who they are, what they are watching and a few other things Nielsen might want to know about them.

“Why not?” says Donato. “Your phone can talk to you. Your car can talk to you. Why not a TV-ratings meter?”

As Orwellian as that concept may sound, the talking meters are just one in a series of methods Nielsen is developing to measure how people watch TV. The research firm's conventional diary, meter or even its state-of-the-art people meter cannot keep pace with the evolution of the TV.


Artificial intelligence As he prepared for the upcoming presentations, Donato previewed an early draft of the project's latest iteration, MeterWorks II, for B&C. “This is where we're at and what we're about to install in the field,” he says. “It's our roadmap to 2010.”

He adds that Nielsen is in the process of developing or testing an array of new metering devices. Among them:
  • Electronic “tags” capable of telling Nielsen who's in a room when a TV set is on.
  • A super-secret “imaging” technology that would tell Nielsen if people are sitting in front of a TV set while a program is on.
  • Inexpensive “mailable” meters that can be sent via the postal service, returned and reused.
  • Arbitron's portable people meters, which can measure radio and, potentially, other media, in addition to TV.
Beyond these new products, Donato also is developing “systems” that would augment or even replace components of Nielsen's current research methods, including an approach that would “harvest” data from computer servers compiling TV-usage information from electronic programming guides, and another that would incorporate “heuristics,” or artificial intelligence that would make Nielsen's data-processing systems capable of learning whether people were cooperating with Nielsen's ratings research or not.
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