Continuing Its Total Audience Rollout, Nielsen Will Launch Digital Content Ratings on Friday

BuzzFeed, Vice, Mashable and Discovery on board

Headshot of Jason Lynch

Another piece of Nielsen's total audience measurement rollout has fallen into place, as the company will launch its new digital content ratings metric this week. The ratings metric measures audiences across desktop and mobile devices for all content, including video, audio and text.

Digital content ratings, which is a core component of the company's total audience measurement tool, will be available for all Nielsen clients beginning on Friday, the company announced this morning. The syndicated release provides a daily measure of audiences with the same apples-to-apples metrics used for linear ratings. 

The syndicated clients involved with digital content ratings include BuzzFeed, Vice, Mashable, PopSugar, Discovery, Freeform, Kik, AOL, A&E and Tastemade.

Last week, Nielsen solidified plans for its total audience measurement rollout, announcing that its total content ratings will be available to all Nielsen clients, including all networks, agencies, analysts and press, by March 1. But the digital content ratings will be available a full five months earlier than that.

The company's digital content ratings differ from the total content ratings, which are video-focused and contain "de-duplicated" numbers, revealing the total unduplicated audience by removing multiple viewers by the same person on different platforms. "The core audience metrics, which are used as currency for settlement and ad planning, are part of total content ratings," said David Wong, svp of product leadership for Nielsen.

So while clients could add the linear ratings and digital content ratings together to approximate a program's total content rating, it won't be accurate, said Wong.

The digital content ratings are similar to Nielsen's digital ad ratings, which are not a syndicated product because they are campaign-specific and contain proprietary information about the brands involved. Nielsen said its digital content ratings will help digital and television publishers monetize video launches, live coverage and other moments, while agencies and advertisers can incorporate that data into their media plans.

For each brand that Nielsen measures for digital content ratings, it offers two sets of metrics. One is an overall view of time spent, reach and audiences that view all content (video, audio and text) on that particular brand overall, and the other is a deeper dive into video metrics, like amount of time spent and average audience. Publishers can decide whether to allow Nielsen to release information on individual videos, which "most of the longform folks" will do," said Wong.

The early rollout "provides our clients time in the fall to get used to it, to start to use it publicly, and to have data which is fully consistent with the digital measurements in full content ratings over the next months," which will help them get up to speed as total content ratings are rolled out early next year, said Wong.

Until now, the only clients with access to these metrics were the 50-plus participating TV and digital media brands that have been involved in the evaluation process of total audience measurement, as well as companies with digital-only content like BuzzFeed and Mashable.

"Delivering syndicated digital content ratings is a tremendous milestone, and provides publishers, agencies and advertisers powerful insights that help them understand the full value of their content across digital platforms," said Megan Clarken, Nielsen's president of product leadership, in a statement.

Nielsen's digital content ratings announcement included statements from several of the syndicated clients. "Chat is at the core of the smartphone era, and we're leading the way in showing brands what's possible with this new medium," said Josh Jacobs, president of Kik Services at Kik. "We're looking forward to integrating Nielsen digital content ratings to demonstrate the value and impact of engaging teens through chat."

Added Edwin Wong, vp, research and insights, BuzzFeed, "We're very excited about the potential of Nielsen's digital content and advertising ratings and the future of more robust third party measurement features that cover the breadth of BuzzFeed's cross-platform content: from fans watching Tasty videos on Facebook mobile, to the latest BuzzFeed News investigation on Google's AMP."

@jasonlynch Jason Lynch is TV Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.