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Nielsen tackles measurement issues

News, 28 October 2015

NEW YORK: Nielsen is pushing for major changes to the 2006 industry agreement that defined C3 and C7 television ratings, with the goal of having updated criteria in place for next year's upfronts.

Ad Week reported that the measurement firm had recently convened a meeting of leading industry executives, including network ad sales and buying chiefs, to discuss the issue and said that some present had been surprised that it was not technical limitations that were holding back progress.

"Nielsen can measure a lot more than they're given credit for," said David Campanelli, svp, director of national broadcast for Horizon Media, "but the definition is what it is, so they're hamstrung by that, and we all have to go along with it."

For example, the company has the capability to measure ratings up to 35 days after live airing, for both linear and digital TV and has developed a Total Audience Measurement tool that will enable it to measure viewers across all platforms, not just TV.

The media landscape has altered hugely in the nine years since that agreement was drawn up. It excludes from the figures any viewing where the ad load is not identical to the linear telecast and all DVR and VOD viewing beyond the seventh day after it airs.

Megan Clarken, evp/global watch product leadership at Nielsen, revealed that the top-level meeting had discussed "the next iteration of C3 and C7" as well as "a shift toward a complete change in the currency".

"It's important for us to understand how this thing is going to evolve over time, not just tomorrow but in future years," she said.

An example of how that evolution might look came from Campanelli, who pointed out the complications that arise when audiences for the same show receive different ads.

"The needs of the network to prove success of a show and the need of an advertiser to deliver impressions start to be two different things," he said.

"C3, C7 and C30 is a horizontal view of things, and I think we need to start looking at things more vertically, and how many total impressions across different formats can ABC deliver my advertiser on Wednesday night, rather than in the Modern Family spot across 30 days."

Data sourced from Ad Week; additional content by Warc staff