Nielsen and Comcast Team Up to Measure VOD and OTT Ads

Partnership with FreeWheel ad-serving platform will be ready for next year’s upfronts

Nielsen can already measure VOD content ratings, but the FreeWheel partnership will also allow it to track ads on the platform. Photo Illustration: Tenzin Tsepel; Sources: Getty Images, FreeWheel, Nielsen
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Nielsen is taking a big step to strengthen its measurement efforts for ads on OTT and set-top box video on demand, teaming up with Comcast’s ad-serving platform FreeWheel to determine ratings for the VOD ads, not just the content.

In the partnership, announced today at Cannes Lions, Nielsen and FreeWheel will expand measurement to addressable set-top box and OTT VOD inventory.

This will enable Nielsen to measure the ads that Comcast loads onto its set-top box VOD to make it addressable (Nielsen can already measure the set-top box VOD content through its own product).

FreeWheel also works with clients beyond Comcast across the OTT ecosystem, and this partnership will enable those clients to leverage digital ad ratings across Roku and Hulu.

The partnership, the companies claim, will help programmers, MVPD providers and marketers figure out how to reach consumers, and allow VOD content to become more addressable and more dynamic.

“Nielsen is committed to building measurement solutions that account for the entire television ecosystem, from linear and—in view of our plans with Comcast and FreeWheel—across over-the top and set-top box video on demand inventory,” said Megan Clarken, global president of watch at Nielsen, in a statement. “This solution will be critical to further unlock the power of television, wherever and however a consumer is watching that content.” Last November, Nielsen began integrating Comcast’s anonymized TV viewing data with its own panel data for local TV measurement.

“The work Comcast and FreeWheel will be doing with Nielsen to make television, in all its forms, data-enabled, targetable and measurable is another step to unify TV as a platform,” said Marcien Jenckes, president of advertising, Comcast Cable, in a statement. “These efforts will add to the robust picture of viewership trends, further strengthening the currency used by the entire TV industry.”

Nielsen and FreeWheel plan to have this new offering ready in time for next year’s upfront, with long-term plans to expand the measurement beyond Comcast’s set-top boxes to those of other cable providers.

Linear ratings have declined as viewers watch more content on delayed viewing, but those platforms are harder to measure and monetize. Nielsen hopes its partnership will FreeWheel will close some of those measurement gaps.

@jasonlynch Jason Lynch is TV Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.