News sees significant fall in video views after paywall, rivals question Nielsen on drop off

Source: Nielsen video sensis June

Source: Nielsen video census June. Click to enlarge.

Online publishers are questioning the reasons for a dramatic rise followed by a sudden drop in video viewing for News Corp Australia’s websites in the latest video audience survey from audience measurement company Nielsen.

Last year, Nielsen’s data saw News Corp show a sudden jump from from fourth in the market to challenging Mi9 for top position after its unique viewing audience apparently tripled in the space of little more than two months.

The video census service was launched by Nielsen in November last year. Offering such a product was a condition of Nielsen winning the endorsement of the Interactive Advertising Bureau as the default industry currency provider.

The latest Nielsen video data News Corp Australia’s video audience last month apparently fell 50.2 per cent while video streaming fell by 76.8 per cent.

Nielsen and News Corp were unable to say whether News genuinely suffered a huge drop in video views, whether the previous data was too high, or whether the new number is now too low.

The company’s rivals have questioned the sudden fall off especially as it comes after a build up in traffic from around half a million in November to more than two million by February 2013. Part of the rise can be attributed to the introduction of autoplay on its sites in late January 2013.


Nielsen video census stream audience | Click to enlarge

Nielsen video census stream audience | Click to enlarge

“We’ve been scratching our heads about why News’s numbers have been so high and now Nielsen has been exposed,” said one rival publisher. “Nielsen are the ones who are supposed to be measuring this correctly.”

Another rival put the onus on News Corp Australia to explain the drop off. “News have been out beating their chest about their numbers in the market and they now have some explaining to do,” said the publisher.

A spokesman for News Corp Australia put the collapse of video down to the implementation of its paywall and the transition to its internal Methode publishing platform which integrates online and print publishing. News did not offer an explanation for why the traffic jumped so suddenly late last year.

“During this period we launched both our news+ subscription products and transitioned some of our major sites onto our new $60m Methode editorial platform. We always expected these to affect video streams and fully expect to see a recovery in these numbers in the coming months,” said the News Corp Australia spokesman.

Nielsen said it would be reviewing whether there were any problems in the counting of video streaming, which unlike other news sites is not tagged.

Monique Perry Nielsen’s Commercial Director told Mumbrella: “In this particular case we don’t yet know what is contributing to the drop, what we need to look at is what definitions we are capturing for this month and check wether the video streaming definitions have changed. At this point we don’t know if its an audience drop or a change in definition that we have to investigate.”

This is not the first time complaints have been raised – in March Nielsen had to reissue its numbers for web traffic ratings after it left a key subsite out of Ninemsn’s numbers leading them to drop a number of places in the news rankings.

Meanwhile, the June audience report for the Nielsen Online Ratings, which examines  audience of Australia’s major news websites, shows little change in the overall audience despite what was expected to be a tumultuous month for Australia’s news website rankings with metered paywalls for The Daily Telegraph and Herald Sun alaunching nd the first full month of Australian operation for UK newspaper The Guardian.Nielsen

The audience ratings system has reported retaining its top place on the online ratings with a monthly audience of 2.87m, down marginally on May, while The Daily Telegraph and Herald Sun appear to have little change in their online audiences despite implementing a metered paywall under the News+ brands. The Guardian, which last month crept into the top ten news websites, has fallen out of the top ten with an audience of 1.02m down from 1.09m last month.

The IAB said there had been no concerns raised with it about the changes. The next meeting of the Measurement Council is on Thursday.

Update 4.48pm: 

News Corp Australia told Mumbrella the reasons for the growth in video between November and February where a combination of factors. The company also said their internal numbers showed a smaller decrease than the one shown by Nielsen and that they “are working to clarify the matter”.

The News Corp spokesman said:

From Dec to Jan it was predominantly due to the fact that we had recently subscribed to VideoCensus (as it was called then) and did a review of the URLs being tagged.
A number of additional URLs were added and our numbers went up accordingly.

The rise from Jan to Feb was due to a number of product and editorial factors such as upgrading our players, embedding more video in stories and making it more prominent. We also activated video autoplay around this time.

Throughout this entire period we have also been generally improving the number, quality and delivery of our videos across the network and have been leveraging Fox Sports’ video content.

As is explained in our quote in the story, the recent decline is predominantly due to two things – the launch of news+ and a transition of some of our major sites onto our $60m editorial management system methode. Our internal numbers suggest a decline significantly less than Nielsen’s and we are working with them to clarify the matter. We are already seeing a recovery in the numbers and expect this to continue.

News Corp Australia has also commented in the thread below.

Nic Christensen 


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