Brad Adgate's article reports that this month, Nielsen made two decisions regarding measuring out-of-home (OOH) TV viewing and adding it to traditional in-home TV viewing.

The audience measurement company had first announced in September 2019 that they would include OOH viewing to its national TV ratings service beginning in September 2020. But last week, Nielsen announced they would delay the implementation of OOH viewing to their national TV sample with no new start date.

Just 30 hours later, after facing harsh criticism from such prominent clients as Disney and ViacomCBS, who were counting on OOH viewing as an additional revenue source, Nielsen reversed their decision. OOH viewing will be included to their national TV ratings service, beginning in September.

To measure out-of-home TV viewing, Nielsen uses the Portable People Meter (PPM), a pager-like device worn by individuals that can pick up encoded audio signals such as programs and ads. The PPM device was developed by Arbitron and was used to measure radio listening, which primarily occurs outside the home (work and automobiles). When Nielsen acquired Arbitron and renamed it Nielsen Audio, it also acquired the PPM device.

Since the acquisition, Nielsen envisioned adding OOH viewing to its national TV sample using the PPM. Nielsen provided demonstration reports for their television and ad agency clients on the impact adding OOH viewing would have on TV ratings and subsequently, the ad marketplace. Not surprisingly, among programming genres, sports would benefit the most with the addition of OOH TV viewing.

Nielsen added a beacon to the PPM, which could determine whether the viewing took place in the respondent home or outside the home. The beacon however, was unable to exactly locate where outside home the respondent was when they were watching TV (e.g., bar, restaurant, hotel, hospital, airport, gym, etc.).

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