June 16, 2006
Nielsen's A2/M2

Nielsen Media Research made a not-all-that-surprising move this week, when the company announced that it will be making a shift to all-electronic recording of television viewing over the next five years.

The company will be abandoning current paper responses for what it is calling the "Anytime Anywhere Media Measurement," or the very clever A2/M2. However, the company hopes that A2/M2 will be much more compelling than a Star Wars character, in that it will compel companies to trust the data it collects on out-of-home media viewing, Internet viewing and other "non-traditional" media engagements.

According to their press release, the technology will be used to "measure the new ways consumers are watching television, such as on the Internet, outside the home, and via cell phones, iPods, and other personal, mobile devices."

This, in addition to the Active/Passive meter which measures all time-and-place shifted viewing and measurements of DVR and VOD viewing, are Nielsen's attempts at remaining the flag-bearer for audience measurement for the television media.

And it's reassuring to see the company try to further address the problems. As long as everyone remains invested in the 30-second spot, system, however, many of these issues remain problematic. The designation of active and passive is moving in the right direction, and measuring depth of experience seems to be preferable to just getting overall impression numbers, but those are tough things to quantify.

We have to applaud Nielsen for its further attempts to move in the right direction, however, and responding to the growing number of media changes, even if it is going to take the next five years to implement.