Nielsen Wireless Debuts

NEW YORK The Nielsen Co. today introduces a new service, Nielsen Wireless, designed to track how the nation’s 230 million cellphone owners use their handsets to access the Internet, mobile video and other content.

The service is rolling out in several phases, said Jeff Herrmann, the Chicago-based vp who oversees Nielsen Wireless, as well as the company’s videogame measurement service launched last fall.

In phase one, Nielsen Wireless plans to assess the size of the market and determine how various offerings impact traditional cellphone use. Phase two involves measuring mobile content through a new panel that Herrmann and his team are currently developing. That panel should be operational in two to three months, Herrmann said.

Nielsen has already segmented its 10,000-household national TV ratings panel by wireless carrier and is in the process of identifying the Web sites and mobile video outlets those panelists use. Current data reveals that an estimated 8 million people viewed mobile video in May, while more than 33 million users accessed the Web via their phones.

Herrmann said that the company would begin marketing the Nielsen Wireless service, which become available next month, to prospective clients in short order. In addition to wireless carriers and mobile content providers, Nielsen will also target traditional media vendors, agencies and advertisers as clients.

“The value of an entertainment medium is directly proportional to how it is measured,” said Herrmann. “This new mobile measurement service demonstrates Nielsen’s continued commitment to follow content wherever consumers take it.”

Nielsen data for the first quarter showed that 25 percent of 18-34 year olds used their mobile phone to connect to the Internet, while at least 7 percent of that age group viewed mobile video programming. The segmented data from the national TV ratings panel offered some surprises. For example, it showed that the current mobile video audience is somewhat older than might be expected, as 46 percent is 35 or older (while 54 percent is male).

The new service will also provide glimpses into the viewing preferences of TV audiences based on their wireless phone brands. For example, the ratings for the May 23 American Idol finale on Fox was higher among people in Verizon households than those in Sprint or AT&T.

Adweek is owned by the Nielsen Co.