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Brand Specific Commercial Ratings on Horizon

The Association of National Advertisers and Nielsen said Thursday
(Feb. 11) that their tests on brand specific commercial ratings could soon make
them a reality. The industry currently uses commercial ratings known as C3,
which are based on an average rating of commercials across an individual break.

Many advertisers have been pushing for more specific ratings
to help them identify the precise viewership of their ad spot rather than using
guesswork to estimate viewing. The ANA and Nielsen said they have concluded the
first two phases of their In-Home Commercial Ratings Test which has involved
advertisers encoding their commercials to help Nielsen identify when spots run.
While the news will be welcomed by marketers which pay for advertising based on
ratings, the two entities say there are still some barriers to the introduction
of brand specific commercial ratings. One of those issues is that commercials
airing in national, local and syndication all need different codes.

The tests suggest that Nielsen might improve the timing of
the delivery of C3 ratings. Agencies currently wait around two weeks for C3
ratings much longer than they do for live ratings which are available the next

Speaking on a video played at the Association of National
Advertisers TV Forum, David Lubars, the chairman and chief creative officer of
BBDO, said he supported commercial ratings: "They are where the rubber meets
the road," he said, adding that they help the creative community marry right
brain and left brain thinking.

They said that the test produced high accuracy rates that indicate it is possible to rate commercials in the home. But apparently not high enough. They also said that more tests were needed to improve the accuracy and refine the system.
The system relies on encoding of the audio of commercials (originally both audio and video codes were used, but since the June 2009 transition, only audio codes are imbedded because video is digitally compressed).
One of those refinements, they say, will be to make it so they don't have to separately encode national, local and syndicated spots.
"These tests are leaps in the right direction for our industry, and validate all of our work in the area of brand-specific commercial ratings," said ANA President Bob Liodice in announcing the test results.
Through two phases of the test, Nielsen says it has achieved a 90-plus percent detection of audio codes for brand-specific spots, but wants to launch a third phase to test a "more robust" audio detection technology to get the rate closer to 100%.
If that in-home test is successful, the company will conduct technical trials on the way to publishing an implementation plan by second quarter 2010.
ANA and the American Association of Advertising Agencies are encouraging their members to participate in the test, which means using Nielsen's Ad-ID system to encode the commercials.