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January 10, 2017
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Nielsen’s Total Audience Ratings Coming…Eventually

Nielsen is working to develop a new rating framework to measure across all consumer connected devices.

Nielsen is working to develop a new rating framework to measure across all consumer connected devices. The idea is to have Total Audience Ratings to give brands true measurement of their impact against targeted audiences across all screens – game consoles, internet-connected streams, TV, digital video, smartphones, and tablets. The roll-out has been rocky and now delays could be in its future.

Back in September 2016, Nielsen released its Digital Content Rating system. This rating system is a core piece of total audience measurement. The DCR release now makes daily audience measurement simple – using comparable metrics as linear ratings. Some major websites involved with Nielsen’s DCR include Buzzfeed, Vice, Mashable, PopSugar, Discovery, Freeform, and much more.

Digital Content Ratings are not the same thing as Total Content Ratings. DCR is the cousin of Nielsen’s digital ad ratings, which are not syndicated since they are campaign specific and contain important brand details. However, Nielsen says DCR will assist in monetizing video launches, live coverage, and other moments. This will allow agencies and advertisers to incorporate the data into their plans. Nielsen will make metrics available in two sets: one is overall time spent, reach, and how audiences viewed all video, audio, and text and the second is a deep dive into video metrics.

The Total Content Ratings system was scheduled to become available to media buyers and networks by January 1, 2017, but it never happened. The new ratings system will connect all their measurement capabilities to give clients the ability to see media consumption across all platforms and devices. This wide-ranging system measures total audience viewing for brands messaging and ad campaigns across multiple touchpoints. The delay was caused after several TV network executives expressed concern with the data and software needed for their digital platforms. “At the behest of our television network clients, we have modified the way in which we will be sharing data during the agency evaluation period which beings in January. We will be making certain reports available to agencies based on our [TV] clients and where they are in terms of implementation,” said a Nielsen spokesman.

Networks expressed concerned to Nielsen as many of them are not installing the required software – called SDK (Software Development Kits) on their digital platforms. The software will allow Nielsen the ability to measure across all connected devices and compare traditional TV ratings to report back about a campaign or brand’s audience measurement. Networks are not entirely sure when, or even if, they will install the software, which makes total view measurement viable. In order to have success, there is extensive testing needed and right now, networks are not ready. Even though Nielsen gave into network pressure, they still stand behind the original March 1, 2017 release date.

In 2017, digital ad spending will surpass TV and Nielsen’s new total audience ratings framework will have a significant impact on cross-platform measurement. Once the data is released and available to media buyers, it will be interesting to see how it impacts ad campaigns and tactical planning moving forward.