Saturday, September 18, 2010

Thank you for the two bucks Nielsen, but doesn't tempt me into watching the TV wasteland


In the mail today was an envelope reading "We've produced the TV Ratings for over 50 years!" Good for them. Really. I'm sure that's important to someone. Their market research though was wasted because they might have been able to discover that I do not own a television, do not take part in that cultural wasteland, and have no interest in getting involved. But here it was, an opportunity to become a Nielsen Family, if I so wanted. To become one of the few who are influencing the garbage that infests the television spectrum. It was possibly a chance to become an influencer over television and who knows what might have resulted if they had my opinion thrown into the mix. But somehow I doubt they'll be enrolling in the program after I truthfully told them I own zero televisions or DVR's.

It has me curious though about the long term trending showing a drop or decline in TV viewership. For instance are movements like the TV Turn-Off week (What's the point of TV Turnoff Week?) actually having any effect? Are any significant number of my bretheren humans also eschewing television? Or are most of my fellow humans still wasting their lives being fed with memes by which the corporate masters want us to live our lives?

What came up immediately in searching was of course a Nielsen report, the Three Screen Report to be exact. The report comes from their "Anytime Anywhere Media Measurement" initiative, and clearly intends to be a measure of where "the market" is watching video media content. The three screens are actually five screens, "TV in the home", "timeshifted TV", "Internet", "Video on the Internet" and "Video on a mobile phone".

Hurm, I wonder how they'd count the latest generation iPod Touch I just got? (It's not a phone)


The chart is from 3rd quarter 2009, and does not show a decline in viewership. It shows tremendous growth in watching via unconventional means like DVR's or over the Internet, but still strong growth in people watching this garbage.

Reading the report I'm struck at how it characterizes the audience they're measuring. What they're looking for is how to gauge the amount of time our fellow humans are spending time watching video material. If they were neutral observers not out to influence viewing habits it would be one thing, but of course this company is selling data to organizations who wish to maximize the impact of where they spend advertising dollars and in turn sell the most widgets.

They are characterizing (and ranking) the audience (that is, us) by viewing time. This report is used to look for increase or decline in viewership. A hidden agenda in the report would be ensuring viewing time does not decline. A serious decline in viewership would threaten the Nielsen's existence as well as the companies to whom they sell market data.

Good thing for them the report shows strong growth in viewership and especially technological widgets like DVR's or the Internet are growing as popular ways of watching video media. My contention of course is that this is a vast wasteland and to be sad for my fellow humans who have been snookered into watching this stuff.

I wonder what would happen if there were a serious decline in viewership? Obviously these companies would take a viewership decline as a threat and make some effort to counter such a trend.

An example might be Twitter Quitters Post Roadblock to Long-Term Growth, a study of traffic trends on Twitter. It finds there is a large number of twitter users who don't return after the first month. In other words, twitter has a retention problem. "People are signing up in droves, and Twitter’s unique audience is up over 100 percent in March. But despite the hockey-stick growth chart, Twitter faces an uphill battle in making sure these flocks of new users are enticed to return to the nest."

Replace "Twitter" with "Television" in that report and would there not be a lot of worried articles in the news saying "Nielsen ratings show the death of television, woe is us, what can we do?" Right?

One can dream...

Their site is full of other marketing insights so here's a random collection revealed by trawling around.


Number of U.S. TV Households Climbs by One Million for 2010-11 TV Season This report shows the rising number of sheeple being led to gorge themselves on televised junk.

Can Neuromarketing Research Increase Sales? Describes research into scientists using gizmo's to track brain waves and eye movements while a customer is looking at a widget they intend to sell. By looking at neurological responses they're able to detect which version of a given widget elicits the desired response, presumably with the desired result of more sales.