AOL is using Nielsen Ratings, Google is developing its own TV-like metric. It seems the race is on to steal those ad dollars away from TV and put them on the web. Since it wasn't working with standard online metrics, they decided to beat TV at its own game and offer metrics that match up well with TV.
AOL Goes TV-Like with Nielsen
AOL was the first to announce the use of TV-like metrics this week when they said that they would start using the new Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings (launched August 2011, expanding to the UK soon) which "seek to offer TV-type data within the online arena, offering buyers a chance to better compare the results of campaigns across platforms," according to MediaPost.
It seems like the online video advertising companies are on the "if you can't beat them, join them," bus and falling in line with TV networks. Apparently TV networks are also looking to bundle online with on-air advertising for cross-platform campaigns in order to get better results. It seems the synergy is now charging up between TV and online video ads. After years of TV execs wringing their hands and online ad networks pulling in piles of cash, they've finally found a similar wavelength to help advertisers.
Perhaps it was the advertisers who were nudging both toward each other?
Google Stands Apart... Again
Google, for its part in TV-like measurements, just announced this week that they've got something like TV's reach and frequency metric, gross rating points. comScore already has a vGRP (video gross rating point) system and now Google announced their Active GRP and Active View.
DoubleClick will be the location of the pilot for the new metrics where it will begin with demographic segments by age and gender and then expand into other metrics over time. It's also going to seek accreditation for it's aGRP with the Media Rating Council. The MRC has been around since the mid-60's and is designed to make minimum standard for ratings operation, accreditation and auditing.
The Council seeks to improve the quality of audience measurement by rating services and to provide a better understanding of the applications (and limitations) of rating information. The Bylaws of the MRC document the organization’s mission as: “to secure for the media industry and related users audience measurement services that are valid, reliable and effective; to evolve and determine minimum disclosure and ethical criteria for media audience measurement services; and to provide and administer an audit system designed to inform users as to whether such audience measurements are conducted in conformance with the criteria and procedures developed.” This mission was established with the support of the House Committee. -MRC website
Google is taking the IAB approach to a view, at least 50% of an ad is on-screen for at least one second, as the basis for its Active View. This is mostly for display ads and allows advertisers to only pay for ads that are in a position to be seen by an Internet user.
A View is Still Poorly Defined
Well that's all fine and dandy but it doesn't really address the old question, what is a view? To me it should be more than 50% of an ad played. However, other ad networks, and Hulu, have taken to the 100% viewed rule which I like as well. In those cases the advertisers aren't charged a view unless 100% of an ad is shown. Whether or not the user is looking at the video doesn't matter.
That's very much like TV where most of us see commercial breaks more like time to hit the kitchen or the bathroom. In the Google metric, theoretically, someone could skip away from the ad after 50% of the creative was shown and viewable and it would count as a view.
A Metric with a View
These TV metrics are definitely a step forward for online video advertising, but fragmentation in the industry is going to probably keep advertisers away just as much as a lack of TV-like metrics will. Advertisers who are pouring millions into TV want and need specific metrics and the ability to calculate ROI across cmpaigns. All of that should be far easier with Internet video advertising, it's just a matter of getting the industry to that point. I have even suggested having a panel about it several times at yearly trade shows in hopes of moving toward a single unifying metric. However, doing that is much like trying to get physicists to agree on a single string theory or constant for the universe. That my friends, is much like herding cats.
With everyone making their own metric now, it's just going to continue to make online video advertising a murky and unpredictable enterprise for many TV advertisers. That's going to be just as counter-productive as not having the proper metrics at all. We, like Middle Earth, need one metric to rule them all.