BBC Global News withdraws from Nielsen and calls on IAB to look past big members’ interests

BBC Global News has joined Fairfax in dropping out of Nielsen’s digital ratings services with local executives calling on the IAB to widen its focus and look beyond the interests of its largest members.

The BBC, along with Fairfax and Seven, were notable exclusions from the new ratings survey released on Friday, following the global service’s decision not to participate in the revamped scheme.

Alistair McEwan, BBC Global News’ senior vice president of commercial development for Asia & ANZ

In the March Digital Ratings Monthly results, the BBC was the ninth most visited news site with 2.3 million unique visitors. In the new Digital Content Ratings released last week, they had dropped out of the list, along with the SMH and Yahoo7.

Jamie Chambers, ANZ regional Director for BBC Global News Ltd, told Mumbrella the unique nature of the Australian market has put the global broadcaster and publisher at a disadvantage: “We work globally, so we’ve got to recognise the needs of multiple marketplaces.”

In most markets globally, ComScore is the preferred industry metric and the BBC uses it globally. Locally, IAB Australia endorses Nielsen after tendering out audience measurement services in 2011.

“With DCR there was a need to put tags down on the site with some of the uncertainty around GDPR there was a lot of work to go, particularly if you’re working with third parties. Comscore is the currency in most markets around the world so our internal priorities were with ComScore,” said Chambers.

Alistair McEwan, BBC Global News’ senior vice president of commercial development for Asia & ANZ, added the IAB needs to look beyond a narrow group of local interests if local measurement services are to reflect the realities of the digital marketplace.

The majority of the IAB’s funding comes from the large digital players who sit on the IAB’s board. “There are questions about how there can be wider debate and discussion that reflects the broader digital community and not exclusively managed by the principal executive members who sit on the IAB,” said McEwan.

“From a BBC perspective as a global media player, we aren’t engaged in that debate but this is an opportunity for the IAB as they consolidate around the new measurement system and engage more widely with the industry.”

Chambers also told Mumbrella local launch of DCR caught the global media company by surprise, forcing it to reconsider how audiences are measured in the Australian market.

“At the time the conversations we had with Nielsen were that DRM would continue to the currency used, so the view was we could kick the can down the road.”

“At the beginning of the year we didn’t feel it was necessary to switch, however, we were caught by surprise when the announcement came through they were going to switch to DCR Monthly.

“It’s given us the moment to review what we need from the metrics and what does the market need. We’ve taken the view to take a waiting game to see how the market evolves and how other publishers respond.

“We’re certainly not closing the door, we work very positively with Neilsen but in terms of this tool we want to see how the market moves around it. But we also want to make sure the market wants to know why the BBC is not the DCR.”

Responding to the McEwan criticisms, IAB Australia’s interim CEO, Gai LeRoy told Mumbrella: “IAB and our Measurement Council, which includes both large and small local members as well as global members, all work collaboratively for the benefit of our industry.

“Together we have worked tirelessly with Nielsen to develop DCR, the most comparable, accurate and independent measurement data for our market.  It is available for all publishers to use, regardless of size or location and supports the needs of all publishers.

“Indeed as reported regularly in the trade press for the last year, the desire for publishers to be able to report their complete audience number (including off-platform) is strong and DCR answers this need, however, active participation is needed if publishers want their complete audience number.   Where publishers choose not to tag for commercial reasons, they will still appear in the DCR reports and will be clearly marked as being untagged so that advertisers are aware.”

LeRoy pointed out the arms length relationship between the IAB and Nielsen: “It is part of the Deed IAB holds with Nielsen for the audience measurement that IAB commission an independent audit every year.  This is to ensure that the measurement system is performing as agreed and that it still the best possible option in market for a comparable, independent and accurate measurement data. The most recent audit was complete in 2017.

“There is no financial relationship between Nielsen and IAB Australia.  Nielsen is one of 120 general members of IAB Australia, along with other measurement vendors including CommScore, IPSOS and Morgans.   “

Nielsen declined to comment.


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