Nielsen Chief: GroupM Pushing XCR As Cross-Platform Ratings Standard, Asserts It's A Fait Accompli
Nielsen is approaching an “inflection point” in terms of the ad industry adopting its Online Campaign Ratings (OCR) as the currency for online advertising buys and it is getting “significant uptake” on its recently launched Cross-Platform Campaign Ratings (XCR), with WPP’s GroupM once again pushing the industry toward a new media currency, Nielsen CEO David Calhoun said this morning during a quarterly earnings calls with analysts.
“If GroupM’s early runs are indicative, I don’t think the others will even hesitate,” Calhoun said of the big agency holding company’s initial foray into the new cross-platform ratings, which comingle TV and online audience estimates into one integrated rating that can be planned, bought and posted on, just like traditional TV ratings.
“It’s going to take a while, because you need all the agencies to understand what it is, and have it line up with the TV ratings today,” Calhoun said, adding that it would be “months before we can get it even distributed in a way before it can become a standard.”
Noting that big sellers such as ESPN and Hulu are already pushing the XCR ratings, Calhoun implied that it will ultimately be up to Madison Avenue to decide whether it becomes an advertising trading currency such as its conventional TV ratings, or its new OCR ratings appear to be becoming for online ad buys. He said GroupM is showing some “progress” and was hopeful that it could influence other agencies and advertisers to follow suit.
GroupM historically has been very influential in motivating the rest of the ad industry to get behind new media trading currencies, as it proved several years ago by ending an industry stalemate around time-shifted TV viewing estimates, and convincing the industry to move toward TV’s current “C3” ratings, which include live viewing plus seven days of DVR playback viewing.
During the call, Calhoun noted that TV networks have been pressuring Nielsen to include more days of time-shifted viewing, but that it was ultimately up to both sides of the marketplace -- both buyers and sellers -- to determine that.
While Nielsen is hopeful that XCR may ultimately become a new media-buying currency for combining TV and online audience impressions, Calhoun said OCR is approaching an inflection point as a legitimate industry currency for buying online advertising.
“With respect to the measurement of [online] video, I think we’ve already seen it,” he said, adding that he believes Nielsen is “getting very close” to achieving that same inflection point in terms of OCR becoming the standard bearer currency for all online advertising buys.
He noted that Nielsen has measured 1,800 campaigns across more than 100 advertisers to date, and recently launched in the U.K., with plans to add five more overseas markets soon.
While Nielsen has been giving its OCR data free to big marketers and agencies to vet the service, Calhoun said, “we pretty much have most of the TV networks signed up.”
In response to an analyst’s question, Calhoun dismissed allegations from rival comScore that Nielsen’s OCR ratings do not sufficiently account for the “viewability” of online ads, which currently is a contentious issue in the online ad industry, with many buy-side stakeholders pushing to make it an industry standard for advertising’s proof-of-performance.
“I understand that our competitor has tried to make that a big deal,” he said, emphasizing “it is not.”
He explained that the reason is that measurement of “viewability” will become “less and less important, because all of the [ad] servers are going to determine that. I don’t see that as a big factor now, and even less in the future.”