Nielsen Plans 2022 Rollout Of New Commercial Metrics, Upgrading Longtime ‘C3’ Ratings Standard

Nielsen is rolling out individual commercial metrics, calling it a significant upgrade of the widely used “C3” ratings.

The move is part of an effort to capture estimates of viewing audiences based on individual ads as opposed to commercial minutes.

Projected to take effect in the first half of 2022, the new system relies on a third-party logistics firm called Extreme Reach. The company will help Nielsen encode most national linear TV commercials with the company’s watermarks, enabling them to be tracked as ads are in the digital world. As opposed to transacting on the amount of overall commercial minutes in a programming block, ad buyers and sellers will be able to get more granular, “sub-minute” numbers.

Gracenote, which Nielsen acquired in 2016, will also assist in the watermarking process, the company said.

The C3 metric is the commercial cousin of “live-plus-three,” or L3 ratings. It was launched in 2007 as a way of trying to enable networks to get credit for viewership of commercials occurring outside of the linear window. Networks had complained that as DVR use eroded linear ratings, delayed viewership was going uncounted.

The ad tracking initiative is part of an overall revamp of Nielsen’s measurement offerings, with the mother ship being the new cross-platform product Nielsen One, due in 2022. A host of network and advertising stakeholders have been vocal in criticizing Nielsen for its methodology throughout 2022, with several companies pursuing ways to deliver alternative measurement. From the dawn of television, though, Nielsen has weathered intense scrutiny but remains the dominant player in measurement. Still, the streaming era promises a more opaque operating environment, as currently Netflix is the only company sharing viewership stats of streaming shows, and even then only the ones it chooses to reveal.

“Giving the industry true, trusted metrics that offer harmonization across platforms is the bedrock to revolutionizing the cross-media buying and selling process and a foundational step toward Nielsen ONE,” said Kim Gilberti, SVP Product Management, Nielsen. “By transforming our TV measurement and moving to Individual Commercial Metrics, both media buyers and sellers will be able to maximize the value of their inventory as well as capitalize and drive return on investment of their advertising spend across the rapidly converging traditional and digital landscapes.”

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