NBC hires Google for audience measurement

NBCUniversal will once again use its Olympics coverage to search for what it calls the “holy grail” of audience measurement. It  has commissioned Google and research company comScore to develop new ways to measure viewership across broadcast, cable, internet and mobile platforms.

The 2012 London Games will be the third consecutive Olympics in which NBCU will conduct this kind of research. With the company offering its coverage across many platforms over a finite period of time, the Games typically provide an optimal test subject to conduct research on new metrics, NBCU officials say.

This time, however, the company is approaching the development of a so-called “single-source” metric with a little more urgency. Powerful voices within the TV industry are calling for an overhaul of Nielsen’s analog ratings system, which has a relatively small sample of 25,000 homes still manually filling out usage diaries on what they watch on TV, and has no way of measuring audience beyond traditional TV platforms.

NBCU will be aiming for a  proof of concept that shows the broadcast and advertising industries that such single-source metrics can indeed be created. “Cross-platform measurement is extraordinarily challenging, but we believe the unique and complimentary nature of these research projects will bring us one step closer to cracking the code of single-source measurement,” NBCUniversal research president Alan Wurtzel said.

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