Facebook To Provide Nielsen With Aggregated, Anonymized Data On TV Viewers

CoupleTVLaptop650Facebook will begin sending anonymized information on the ages and genders of viewers of specific television shows to ratings-measurement outfit Nielsen this fall, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The two companies told the Times the information Nielsen sends to the social network will be in the form of numerical codes, meaning that Facebook won’t know which shows the codes represent, while the data sent from Facebook to Nielsen will be in aggregate, so Nielsen will not know the identities of any Facebook users, but it will know the ages and genders of those watching specific shows.

Nielsen Executive Vice President Cheryl Idell stressed the privacy aspects of the partnerships, telling the Times:

The world is shifting radically, and so we had to evolve our measurement so that we could capture all of this fragmented viewing.

It is all anonymous and privacy-protected. It’s in our DNA.

And a Facebook spokesperson told the Times:

We have worked with Nielsen under strong privacy principles. We don’t believe that audience-measurement systems should be used to adjust targeting; they should only be used for measurement. This protects the privacy of people viewing ads and ensures that both advertisers and publishers have the same information about the audiences.

However, there were already some skeptics, as American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California Attorney Chris Conley told the Times:

It’s interesting to me that I’m watching a video somewhere and somehow Facebook knows that.

Electronic Privacy Information Center Consumer Protections Counsel Julia Horwitz also weighed in, telling the Times:

Consumers really are not aware of the extent to which Facebook is putting their non-Facebook activity to use. Watching television and surfing the Internet shouldn’t necessarily involve Facebook.

GroupM Managing Partner Lyle Schwartz provided the Times with an advertising-agency perspective, saying:

Americans are using more devices than ever before to watch video content, and the number of content producers has proliferated. That fragments the audience. It also gives advertisers the ability to target their messages.

We have to be able to understand how consumers are seeking out our ads across all these different platforms, but we have got to make sure we do this with the permission of the viewers. We are very cognizant of that line that exists — and we don’t want to cross it.

And all you need is one mistake.

Readers: What are your impressions of the upcoming collaboration by Facebook and Nielsen?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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