At its TV conference in New York on Thursday, the Association of National Advertisers said it is testing the feasibility of so-called brand-specific ratings with the Nielsen Co.
Three years ago, the industry agreed to use a new Nielsen ratings system that measures average commercial minutes as the basis for buying national TV ads. That system replaced a decades-old process that measured viewing for shows, not spots.
Since that time, however, the ANA has been pressing for a more precise metric: ratings for individual spots, which the organization insists are what most advertisers care about most.
The ANA and Nielsen are working with AD-I.D., a company that develops audio codes that can be embedded in programs and ads, in the feasibility tests.
Currently, Nielsen has no timetable for developing a system to measure individual spots. And buyers and sellers would have to agree to use the system before it is introduced as ratings currency.
Also, Nielsen would need to make changes to its system beyond putting codes in ads. Those changes would include upgrading its measurement technique to a second-by-second process in order to measure specific 15- and 30-second commercials.
Still, Nielsen vice chairman Susan Whiting said, "This test has shown that we can develop the technical ability to produce ratings for specific commercials."
ANA president Bob Liodice praised the effort. "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," he said.
Trials of additional types of audio codes will occur in the next phase of testing. Liodice encouraged marketers and agencies to participate to insure a successful outcome.