Nielsen Rolls Out GamePlay Service

NEW YORK Nielsen Media Research has launched its long-awaited GamePlay Metrics service, a measurement product designed to collect audience data for video games.

The new service, which is expected to begin generating the video-game equivalent of TV ratings by mid-2007, is aimed at establishing standard metrics and third-party objectivity to the burgeoning segment of in-game advertising, which is predicted to be a $730 million market by the end of the decade, according to The Yankee Group.

GamePlay Metrics will pull data directly from gaming consoles, such as PlayStation 2 and Xbox, through a patented technology developed by Nielsen that will record both game titles and game players’ demographic information.

Nielsen, which is owned by Adweek and Mediaweek parent VNU, will leverage its 10,000-plus households people meter sample to compile the new video-game metrics panel. Because of that dynamic, Nielsen plans to also utilize GamePlay Metrics to examine the impact of video-game play on other more traditional media—such as what TV shows are most watched by gamers.

GamePlay Metrics is the first product launch to come from the just-launched Nielsen Wireless and Interactive Services division, which is helping lead the company’s Anytime Anywhere Media Measurement initiative. The latter aims to track media usage across a host of digital and emerging media, such as streaming video on the Web.

“The value of an entertainment medium is directly proportional to how well it is measured,” said Jeff Herrmann, vp of Nielsen Wireless and Interactive Services. “A reliable and accurate standard of measurement for video gaming will drive advertising investment in this medium and help convert video-game advertising from a discretionary advertising experiment to a must-have option.”

Nielsen is not the only metrics company to attempt tackling video-game audience measurement. Back in July, an independent company called Interpret announced plans to launch Gameasure, a similar video-game metrics product. Michael Dowling, a former general manager of Nielsen Interactive Entertainment, heads Interpret.