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Neilsen Introduces New Way To Measure Gamer Metrics

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the they're-watching-you dept.

Games 27

GameDaily reports on a couple of new ways that Neilsen is trying to stay with the times. Game usage and tracking have always been hard for them, and they're rolling out two new strategies to consumers. The first requires participation on the part of developers: a 'tag' that can be built into software to register usage with the Neilsen folks. An initial attempt at this was tried in 2005, and never got off the ground. They're now trying again. The other is a bit more clever, and is usable on multiple forms of entertainment. The blog 'We Can Fix That with Data' did some research into the organization's 'Portable People Meters': "The Portable People Meter, developed by Arbitron Inc., is a pager-sized device that is carried by a representative panel of television viewers. It automatically detects inaudible codes that broadcasters embed in the audio portion of their programming using encoders provided by BBM and Arbitron. At the end of each day, the survey participants place the meters into base stations that recharge the devices and send the collected codes to BBM for tabulation. The Portable People Meter can measure exposure to any electronic media, which has audio that can be encoded - television, cable, and radio, even cinema advertising and in-store media."

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What about TV (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 7 years ago | (#19919101)

I am of the understanding that they can can barely do television right, why are they not concentrating on that first?

Re:What about TV (1)

Xaivius (1038252) | more than 7 years ago | (#19919241)

Because people seem to need meaningless numbers to validate thier existence

Re:What about TV (2, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#19919639)

Hey! I've got over 10,000 XBox Gamer Points and I'm proud of it! Err, wait...

Yeah, we -do- seem to need meaningless numbers to validate our existance. It's wired into who we are. I'm about the most non-competitive person I know, and I still feel the need to 'win' from time to time.

But that really has nothing to do with these ratings, does it? These are for personal edification, they are to measure the success of shows/games so that networks know what is popular and what is not. IF the system worked right, maybe we wouldn't be stuck with so many idiotic shows. It's a big 'maybe', though, as most people that watch a lot of TV watch it whether there's anything good on or not. I can't stand to have my time wasted like that, so my DVR and I are on a first-name basis now. This is a particularly sucky time of the year, apparently... There's only a couple shows running that I care about at all, and they both started up recently, I think. (Eureka and the lastest Doctor Who, and I haven't figured out exactly when DW started on Scifi, and how it managed to get past me.)

Re:What about TV (1)

KoldKompress (1034414) | more than 7 years ago | (#19924583)

No you're not, I'm less competitive than you!

Re:What about TV (2, Interesting)

ink (4325) | more than 7 years ago | (#19919369)

Their new technology (referenced in the article as "PeopleMeter") allows them to passively monitor all the audible marks that you hear during the day. They listen for encoded signals in the audible streams of radio stations, television stations, retail outlets and (now) video games. This lets them count how many eyes (or ears, as it were) are on a specific media stream at a given time which, in turn, sets the "demand" for the advertising market. World of Warcraft will be going up against Howard Stern and Boston Legal.

I'll leave it at that; but I'm sure the hackers in us all are VERY curious as to how this encoding works... no? :->

Re:What about TV (1)

cromar (1103585) | more than 7 years ago | (#19919437)

I'm sure the hackers in us all are VERY curious as to how this encoding works... no?

Hahaha. I can imagine a nationwide campaign to fuck up ratings. THAT WOULD BE SO MUCH FUN.

Re:What about TV (1)

pluther (647209) | more than 7 years ago | (#19919791)

I'm going to go build my Firefly subchannel transmitter right now!

Re:What about TV (1)

Jmanamj (1077749) | more than 7 years ago | (#19919511)

Now I suppose all we need is for someone to jump that last remaining gap and start implanting subliminal messages that prompt us to choose the "better" form of entertainment?

(inside head)

"your playing to much want to watch American Idol..."

'But no, I dont'

"yes you do, studies show more people are watching Idol right now"

'still, I do-'


(a splitting headache ensues, guy goes to get a drink of water, and decides to watch TV...)

Re:What about TV (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#19920171)

I'm sure the hackers in us all are VERY curious as to how this encoding works... no?

I'm actually more curious to see if MP3/AAC encoding is going to whack these "inaudible" audio codes out of the stream. That could have a nasty effect on their tracking attempts for several types of media. :-P

Re:What about TV (1)

LordSnooty (853791) | more than 7 years ago | (#19925009)

RAJAR is the company which collects radio listenership stats in the UK. They trialled a similar system in 2006, with the user wearing a unit which recorded not only these inaudible signals but the audible content too, for comparison against a database of all shows. However according to WP [] the trial was unsuccessful and they're still using paper diaries.

Re:What about TV (2, Interesting)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 7 years ago | (#19919453)

If you subscribe to digital cable, the cable company has better data on your TV habits than Neilsen will ever have. Same goes for TiVo. Neilsen's days are numbered, unless they can move into a new market, which is where the gaming thing comes from.

Unfortunately, there are already services out there that allow gamers to "share" what games they are playing in real time (i.e. "User Satanicpuppy is currently playing: Galactic Civilizations II"), so their online gamer friends can keep up with what they're doing...It's almost trivial in implementation...Just run a small client to occasionally check running applications for known games. Such a service could easily grab usage information from their user base to generate stats.

Neilsen is just a fossil at this point; their information gathering is second rate compared to what's publicly available now. They would say that their demographic information is better and that they have the ability to generate a more representative sample set, but this could be overcome through the use of a much wider sample set, something these other services are more capable of getting.

Re:What about TV (1)

ink (4325) | more than 7 years ago | (#19919589)

That's not entirely true... It's definitely true for television-only habits, but the PeopleMeter extends beyond that.

Neilson (and Arbitron) are moving into new markets. Markets that Tivo, digital cable, and satellite receivers cannot tap into without significant infrastructure changes. Additionally, they will (supposedly) be able to gauge how many viewers are actually at the set, and not in the kitchen making a sandwich (assuming that surveyors carry their mobile receivers around with them).

The real fun will be in figuring out how the receivers decode the identification of a media stream...

Re:What about TV (1)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 7 years ago | (#19924049)

"Neilsen is just a fossil at this point; their information gathering is second rate compared to what's publicly available now. "

Nielsen does more than TV and radio ratings. It has lots of supermarket data, and a host of other things that it can correlate with different sources, all of which is *not* publicly available information. You're the umptieme person I've met or heard of that claims Nielsen is outdated (or that they can start a company that will replace Nielsen), but your perception of what Nielsen does for its clients just barely scratches the surface.

Re:What about TV (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#19919469)

Two reasons, or rather a reason and its corollary: Some people would like to know which games are the most popular; and consequently, some people will pay for that information. Anyway, they're starting to put advertising into games, so this sort of information is valuable to advertisers.

Re:What about TV (1)

ShaggyIan (1065010) | more than 7 years ago | (#19919495)

why are they not concentrating on that first?
Because they have no incentive to. They are the only game in town. I would love to see someone else manage to compete with Nielsen, but I don't see it happening (unless everyone suddenly buys a Tivo).

TV is already their slave, and television isn't exactly a growth industry these days in terms of broadcasters and stations. They are branching out to try and increase revenues.

Re:What about TV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19921717)

I am of the understanding that they can can barely do television right

And your understanding is incorrect.

(Speaking as a former Nielsen employee, however, I am somewhat biased.)

Re:What about TV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19922119)

How many new system implementations do they have to come out with before they realize that NO ONE WANTS TO SEE THE GOD DAMN ADVERTISING!

Stop interrupting my freaking TV shows, making my movie take 5 more minutes to start, and having large glaring ads in games that I can't even destroy.

Neilsen? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19919229)

GameDaily reports it's spelled 'Nielsen'.

Huh. (1)

cromar (1103585) | more than 7 years ago | (#19919393)

Thats a neat concept at least. I don't see exactly why you would need Nielsen ratings for games... they aren't loaded with ads yet.

I've always wanted to get paid for my television watching habits (come on Nielsen, what about the demographic of people who watches less than 5 minutes of TV a day?!), but been turned off by having to keep a paper account of those... it would be neat if it was automated.

Re:Huh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19925209)

it would be neat if it was automated

In large markets (large cities and their MSAs), it is automated. For small markets, there isn't enough money for the advertisers to be willing to pay for the automation equipment and installation.

Old tech (3, Funny)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 7 years ago | (#19919641)

Didn't RTFA.. Was it a one-eyed, one-horned, flyin' portable people meter?

If so, those have been around since at least the late 50s...

Re:Old tech (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#19925835)

HAHAHA! That made my morning, many thanks.

First error (1)

pluther (647209) | more than 7 years ago | (#19919827)

...a pager-sized device that is carried by a representative panel of television viewers.

An opt-in system that requires people to remember to carry around a pager-sized device will never be "representative".

Much better statistics (1)

Frogbert (589961) | more than 7 years ago | (#19922549) []

Much better statistics and much more relevant to gamers.

Re:Much better statistics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19923591)

Xfire stats are only 'better' if you're only interested in Xfire users. As a clear example: XFire lists the minutes played for Counter-Strike: Source to be 4.5 times the minutes played for Counter-Strike 1.6. The by-game listing on Steam ( s [] ) shows that the reverse is true for comprehensive stats on everyone who plays those games -- the old Counter-Strike is played more than its Source equivalent by a factor of 3.6.

Interesting but Useless (1)

tbannist (230135) | more than 7 years ago | (#19926237)

This is an interesting idea, having a device which will automatically detect what you're watching but since it's based on an encoded signal, the underlying system would be extremly vulnerable. The user doesn't seem to be able to check what he's been recorded as watching/listening so if you had the device with you in any public area someone could play a signal for a tv show (for example) to artificially boost it's ratings.

Heck, you'd probably end up with some enthusiast writing a virus to change the signal on popular games to support their personal cause and once that happens it's only a matter of time before someone will make a business of artificially inflating ratings. It'd be SEO all over again, but for real money by artificially increasing the rates advertisers pay to advertise during a particular.

You might think the secrecy of who's a rater would protect them, but as well all know from spam, that people will go after the 0.001% who are in the program even if it means inconviencing the 99.999% who aren't.

dbl fisting (1)

Eggroll (1131325) | more than 7 years ago | (#19942053)

For T.V. I can see how this is useful; you don't necessarily purchase an individual channel. Being a hardcore gamer myself I would be a little upset knowing they are data mining me AFTER I already purchased their product. Their data should show in sales and not track gaming tendencies of it's user base.
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