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Initial Tests Conducted by ANA with Nielsen Show Clear Path to Individual Commercial Ratings

3 minute read | February 2010

February 11, 2010 – New York NY – The ANA (Association of National Advertisers) Television Advertising Committee and The Nielsen Company today announced that after successfully concluding the first two phases of their In-Home Commercial Ratings Test, there is now a potential path for providing individual commercial ratings (also referred to as brand-specific commercial ratings). 

At this time, viewing of commercials is currently reported as the average of all commercial minutes viewed live or in playback during a particular television program. To determine the technical feasibility of Nielsen producing individual commercial ratings, advertisers participating in this test have encoded their commercials employing the same technology Nielsen uses to measure how many people view television programs, to measure how many people watch the individual commercials.

Findings from the test so far include:

  • Given the high accuracy rates in the test, it is technically possible to measure commercial viewing in the home.
  • Additional testing is required to refine the technology to further improve accuracy.
  • Using Ad-ID, a system that generates a unique identifying code for each commercial, as the commercial identifier simplifies the process by eliminating manual data entry.
  • Encoding commercials leads to accuracy, but the process requires improvement to eliminate the need to separately encode commercials for national, local, and syndicated television.
  • There is an opportunity to improve the process and timing of C3 ratings and explore the potential for local commercial ratings.

These test results also help poise the industry to improve the talent payment process due to the ability to have third-party verification of commercial airings. “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 Bob Liodice, President and CEO of the ANA. “Having a valued partner like Nielsen predict that we can achieve almost 100 percent detection should make all participants in this study proud, and encourage others to volunteer to help as well. Participants are good corporate citizens, helping chart a course for our industry.”

“We applaud the ANA for their leadership in this important initiative, which could lead to a better way to measure how people watch commercials,” said Susan Whiting, Vice Chair of Nielsen. “This test has shown that we can develop the technical ability to produce ratings for specific commercials and we look forward to our ongoing work with the ANA in applying these results to the next phase of our test.”

Next Steps

Based on these learnings, Nielsen has proposed a new phase of the In-Home Commercial Ratings Pilot Test. This phase would test a new audio-detection technology, with the goal of further improving accuracy of providing brand-specific commercial ratings. For this phase, advertiser and agency participation are necessary to ensure that Ad-ID is used as the commercial identifier and that all new commercials are audio encoded. ANA and 4A’s encourage participation of advertisers and agencies to make this test a success.

About the ANA

Founded in 1910, the ANA (Association of National Advertisers) leads the marketing community by providing its members with insights, collaboration, and advocacy. ANA’s membership includes 350+ companies with 9,000 brands that collectively spend over $250 billion in marketing communications and advertising. The ANA strives to communicate marketing best practices, lead industry initiatives, influence industry practices, manage industry affairs, and advance, promote, and protect all advertisers and marketers.

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