DOOH: Nielsen Audience Metrics Paint Rosy Picture for Location-Based Digital Signage Networks

The latest figures from The Nielsen Company not only show remarkable growth in audience exposure in Q4 2010 versus the same quarter the previous year, but also that such networks deliver verifiable audiences.

The Nielsen Company, the organization most people know for measuring TV viewership, has some good news for the digital signage industry -and it’s not trivial.

In the fourth quarter of 2010, a metric the company dubs the “average minute audience” of those 18 years old or older at a dozen measured “location-based networks” climbed almost 250 percent compared to the same metric measured at eight such networks in Q4 2009. Translating that into something a little more understandable, Nielsen says the metric means that for the quarter there were more than 500 million gross minute exposures per month.

The findings, part of “The Nielsen Company’s Fourth Screen Network Audience Report,” are significant, not simply because of the remarkable growth exhibited year over year, but also because the numbers exist at all.

Whether you call them “location-based networks,” “digital place-based networks” or “digital signage networks,” one thing essential for legitimacy has been missing for far too long -that is until The Nielsen Company applied its audience measurement expertise to the medium. That ingredient is verifiable audience metrics that media professionals at ad agencies and inside corporate marketing departments can use to make informed decisions about where to spend their ad dollars.

In a blog entry on the Nielsen website describing the findings, Mike DiFranza, president of Captivate and chairman of the Digital Place-based Advertising Association (DPAA) is quoted as saying “quality audience metrics are the foundation of every media investment.” Together with consumer research the Nielsen audience metrics are “key elements” for digital place-based networks “to be planned alongside traditional media,” he added.

It’s hard to imagine any statement being more on-target when it comes to the significance of verifiable audience metrics for the continuing and future success of this emerging medium. I suspect many people reading this column may intellectually grasp the concept, but have little or no firsthand experience with media buyers.

As someone who has worked with ad agencies on and off throughout my career, let me attest to the pride ad professionals take in being able to read audited (that is, independently verified) circulation statements of print publications and examine ratings books of electronic media to identify vehicles that deliver their clients’ identified target markets. Critical to this process is the media outlet actually delivering the audience it says it delivers. That’s where ratings, circulation statements and now “fourth screen audience reports” become essential.

In its blog posting Nielsen does a nice job of highlighting some of the report’s critical findings, so there’s no need to rehash that data here. I recommend spending a moment reading the Nielsen blog posting to learn the specifics.

One final thought -for those considering rollout of new digital signage networks, examining the list of businesses and venues Nielsen measured for the performance of similar deployments might be valuable. Doing so should provide some insight on what might be possible. Nielsen gathered its audience metrics from digital place-based networks in a variety of venues, including: retail, airports, health clubs, gas stations, bars and restaurants, hotels, health clubs and stadiums. Specific companies measured, included: Best Buy, CNN Airport Network, Zoom Fitness, Outcast/Pump Top, TouchTunes Interactive Networks, indoorDIRECT, The Hotel Networks, TargetCast, RMG Fitness, Outcast: Health Club Media Network, AMI and Access-360 AMNTV.