C7? How about Brand-Specific Commercial Ratings?

May 18, 2012

By Bill Duggan

The network upfronts were this past week.  Leadership of at least two major networks used that opportunity to advocate for a shift of currency from C3 to C7 ratings – meaning ratings based on the average commercial minutes in a program with three (or seven) days of commercial viewing in DVR playback.   As the trade association representing client-side marketers, I want to remind the network executives of advertiser interest in more granular commercial ratings. 

With C3, commercial viewing was finally recognized in discussions between buyers and sellers.  But C3 is based on average commercials, not specific commercials.  For more than five years ANA has been advocating for brand-specific commercial ratings as that would help answer the question, “How many people actually had the opportunity to see my spot?"

We’ve surveyed our members many times over the years on this issue, last doing so in 2011 when 82% of marketers expressed interest in having ratings available for individual commercials. That’s a landslide!

There is the need for greater accountability in television advertising, where more than $70 billion is spent annually on commercial time. Marketers require a deeper understanding of program and commercial viewership as well as the behaviors that result from consumers’ television viewing experiences.  Brand-specific commercial ratings would go a long way in better evaluating television’s contribution to the marketing mix as well as in assessing the overall ROI of television advertising expenditures.  Brand-specific commercial ratings would support the needs of marketers by:

  • Most fundamentally, providing better estimates than C3 for viewership of specific commercials.
  • Serving as a copy testing tool to identify the stronger and weaker executions within a commercial pool, enabling advertisers to pull (or fix) weaker spots and heavy up on stronger ones.
  • Functioning as an indicator of commercial wear out.
  • Providing a better understanding of impact differences related to such factors as pod position, length of creative, and national versus local placement.
  • Better establishing the value of in-program and in-game features and sponsorship.
  • Helping provide a barometer of the “stickiness” of specific networks for their commercials.

Brand-specific commercial ratings would be an invaluable tool for campaign management, and ultimately, they would truly help marketers make better decisions.

Should they be currency? That’s up to individual buyers and sellers.  But they should be available.

And remember, ratings are about the “opportunity” to see.  They don’t take into account people leaving the room without logging out of their people meter or those multitasking and possibly distracted via a computer, tablet, or smart phone.  Maybe we should begin exploring technological solutions that equip “eyes” on a television or measurement device before we have serious conversations on C7!



You must be logged in to submit a comment.