There is breaking news in the online video ecosystem almost every day, even in this relatively slow stretch of August. Tuesday’s significant announcement was that Nielsen’s Digital Content Ratings product just got a whole lot more comprehensive by adding measurement capabilities for YouTube, Hulu, and Facebook.
Nielsen has long been the standard for audience measurement on TV, but as TV has become “TV” as we know it in 2017, with video being viewed across many devices, platforms, and delivery methods, keeping accurate score has become near impossible.
Brightcove has long played the role of “mission control” for our customers’ online video businesses where consumption was concentrated on the owned and operated (“O&O”), branded websites, and apps. We’ve known it to be critical for our customers, especially the broadcasters, to get Nielsen credit for the viewership taking place on those platforms. This is why our longstanding partnership with Nielsen has always been a priority and we’ve been able to collaborate with Nielsen to offer DCR plugins for the Brightcove Player and SDKs.
However, as shifts in consumer behavior and the rise of viewing on non-O&O platforms like Facebook drove us to offer Brightcove Social for the seamless publication to -- and analytics collection from -- Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, third party measurement on those platforms was lacking. If Brightcove’s role of being “mission control” meant extending our platform capabilities so did Nielsen’s mission of providing a “complete understanding of what consumers watch” necessitate Tuesday’s news.
The announcement somewhat levels the playing field between broadcasters/networks and digital-native content companies, especially those with younger skewing audiences. Digital publishers have long marketed the reach and engagement of their audiences citing different data sources. Sometimes it is comScore, or other favorable and “internal” (read: Adobe Analytics or Google Analytics etc.) numbers that publishers track. Or, content owners are summing up their audiences on social platforms with a series of stats -- each platform-specific. Sometimes those platforms’ stats were themselves in question. Meanwhile, brands from the TV bundles have been uniquely able to cite their scale from a big name source that has been providing viewing data since 1950.
While the Hulu part of the announcement seems to favor the TV brands, “Hulu will be providing select media partners [my italics] with credit for current series content distributed on the platform,” for the most part I agree with Mic’s President, Jonathan Carson, who said that today’s news helps video publishers like him “better articulate the strength of our audience to brand partners."