You Can Buy Nielsen Ratings on YouTube Starting Next Month

OCR product ready to roll with pre-roll ads on Google's ubiquitous video service

Google is now confident enough in Nielsen's Online Campaign Ratings product (which has been nipped and tucked by the data company over the last few years in ways that have quieted some of the more skeptical marketers) that it's going to start selling guarantees to advertisers based on OCR ratings one month from today.

And as of the end of 2014, Google will have OCR integrated directly into its Doubleclick platform, so you'll be dealing with Nielsen ratings when you're doing workflow, reporting and invoicing. The billing guarantees will be available to buy from Google starting May 1.

A Nielsen spokeswoman pointed to the deal as evidence that OCR was gaining legitimacy among clients and networks—with clients buying so widely across platforms, third-party data has become a major roadblock as advertisers attempt to determine whether their campaigns are reaching their targets. "This development underscores our unique ability to deliver meaningful cross-platform insights to clients and the momentum of our efforts to deliver independent measurement of advertising campaigns across distribution platforms," said the spokeswoman.

Nielsen began testing the data with Google in November of last year; that trial period ended in March, and while advertisers don't know exactly what the Google OCR ratings are going to look like, those that participated in the trial will have some idea of what they're getting. With the upfronts around the corner, it's a safe bet marketers are anxious to snap up verifiable deals like this one in lieu of material guaranteed by much less reliable first-party data. 

OCR was a major point of contention between advertisers and video providers in last year's NewFronts—video providers said they'd be providing more color and specificity in their first-party metrics than Nielsen or another third-party provider like comScore could give; advertisers said all the color in the world wouldn't matter if the data couldn't be independently verified.

Part of the reason this rankles with technophiles is that Web video is frequently sold on the proposition that old, inaccurate metrics for television (Nielsen ratings are frequently listed among the offenders) will fall by the wayside as soon as advertisers get a load of how fast and cool Web data is; unfortunately, that means that clients just end up demanding incredibly specific, rapid data from digital video and refusing to trust first-party providers. The more sophisticated third-party tools like OCR get, the better for everyone.