CIMM is Meeting the Challenge of Measuring Children and Teens

The measurement of viewers under 18 has always been somewhat of a challenge for television. The task has become even more complicated with the fragmentation of media as younger viewers especially are using their devices for a range of media consumption behavior.

CIMM (the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement) has just announced the formation of a new committee on Children and Teens’ measurement that, according to CIMM CEO Jane Clarke, is tasked “with the goal of providing a higher level of urgency and importance to improving cross-platform, digital and mobile measurement (for both content and ads) among children and teens aged two to 17.” The committee has approached both comScore and Nielsen with RFPs to see what measurement approaches they recommend.

The challenge of cross platform measurement for adults is compounded when it comes to those under 18 years old because of the way they use all viewing devices including simultaneous use, OTT, gaming, social media and TV co-viewing. There are also the legal limitations in reaching and measuring young, impressionable consumers because of COPPA*, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which requires parental consent for children under the age of 13.

This all means that measurement of children and teens requires either the development of an opt-in calibrated panel or accurate ascription of demographics. But even ascription can be problematic. In some cases, measurement companies are collecting significant amounts of traffic data that is unreportable because measurement companies can't use the third party data without parental permission. Some of the major measurement companies face some aspect of this problem. As Clarke explains, ”Nielsen can’t report Facebook data for those under 18 due to the MRC and COPPA and comScore doesn’t report any digital data that it can’t attribute it to a demographic group.”

There are a range of questions and issues in measuring 2-17s from the ethical such as “How do you gain parental approval to measure childrens usage of media?” and “What about privacy on individual devices?” to the practical such as “What data would be most valuable and how would we get it?” and “Is passive capturing of data possible and if so how?” and “How will you capture co-viewing and channel decision-making?”  So when it comes down to it, the big question is “Where do you start?”

One member of the CIMM committee, Marc Normand, VP Research Disney Media Sales & Marketing, said, “Protecting children’s privacy while providing sufficient 3rd party data that can be used for planning/buying/selling media across devices/platforms is the main challenge.  We each have our own 1st party data, but we need a 3rd party measurement company to validate the data and put it in competitive context.” Turner VP of Research Mark Loughney, another committee member, agreed, “We and our advertising partners need to know more about the demographic characteristics of who is watching.  From our 1st party data we know how much content and how many ads we are serving but we don’t know who the content and ads are reaching. ”

Time is of the essence. Even now, as this next upfront gets underway, media companies who target kids and teens have limited data to show, especially in this cross platform environment where those young Digital Natives are most active.

This article was first published in www.Mediapost.com

·       *  COPPA, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act ( was enacted in 1998 and requires parental consent in order to report personally identifiable information collected from persons under the age of 13.  The Federal Trade Commission issued an amended Rule for COPPA on December 19, 2012 that took effect on July 1, 2013. This rule prohibits certain websites and online services from collecting, using, or disclosing personal information of children under 13 without first notifying parents and obtaining consent.  
In order to comply with these regulations, measurement firms such as comScore and Nielsen have undertaken initiatives to enumerate the kids and teens populations, and to obtain parental consent for children’s measurement. 

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