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Nielsen to Launch Service to Track Video Gaming

October 19, 2006|From Reuters

Nielsen Media Research Inc., whose TV viewer surveys have long determined how much advertisers pay for commercials, is getting into the digital arena with a ratings service for video games.

Nielsen announced plans Wednesday to launch GamePlay Metrics, designed to give the video game industry a precise system of electronic measurements to standardize the burgeoning market for the buying and selling of ads in its products.

The service also will track the activities of gamers across other media platforms, including television and the Internet.

Nielsen's plan underscores the growing importance of the video game industry to advertisers, who already have their products placed in many titles, particularly those dealing with sports or set in cities.

Unlike television, in which ratings are used to help negotiate commercial rates, the video game industry has yet to come up with standard measurements to use when buying and selling advertising space.

Nielsen's venture will also provide advertisers with data about the playing habits and tastes of gamers, typically the young male demographic highly prized by advertisers.

The sale of video game hardware and software generates global revenues of about $30 billion a year, while advertising and brand displays have grown increasingly prevalent in the virtual landscapes inhabited by gamers.

Forecasters expect the emerging market for in-game ads to reach $1 billion to $3 billion by 2010, but that is a fraction of the more than $60 billion spent on television advertising.

"The value of an entertainment medium is directly proportional to how well it is measured," Jeff Herrmann, vice president of Nielsen's newly created wireless and interactive division, said in a statement. "A reliable and accurate standard of measurement for video gaming will drive advertising investment in this medium."

Nielsen spokeswoman Karen Gyimesi said the video game service would build on the ratings sample the company had in place for television, with some preliminary gaming data being made available in early 2007. But she said the full service would probably not be running until the middle of next year.

New York-based Nielsen is a unit of media and market research company VNU Group.

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