C3 or C7? Maybe Neither, as Specific Spot Ratings Near

Rentrak to incorporate delayed DVR viewing in more exact measurement

The continuing debate about
whether media buys should be made
based on C3 ratings—the current standard,
which includes digital video recorder playback
over three days—or C7, which incorporates
seven days of delayed viewing, misses a larger
point. Neither of those
measurements are what advertisers
who are footing the
bill say they want.

In polls by the Association
of National Advertisers,
82% of members say they
want to be able to get ratings
for their own specific
commercials. The current
C3 and C7 figures represent
the average for all spots
aired during a program.

In 2011, Rentrak introduced
its Exact Commercial
Ratings product, which
is based on live viewing.
Now, according to Bruce
Goerlich, chief research officer at Rentrak, the
company is about a month away from including
DVR playback as part of that measurement.
Rentrak will also produce a C3 equivalent metric
enabling marketers and agencies to compare
the performance of their spots to both the other
spots in a program and the program itself.

The timing would make these new numbers
available just in time for use in this year’s
upfront negotiations. Selecting a currency for
media buys is between a network, the agencies
and their clients. “I can’t speak to that,”
Goerlich said, adding, “I think you’ll see some
interesting things happen in this upfront.”
Before joining Rentrak, Goerlich was on the
agency side as president of strategic resources
for Zenith Optimedia North America.

Nine of the top 13 media agencies get ratings
data from Rentrak. Rentrak’s
TV Essentials national
ratings, as well as its local
StationView Essentials,
are in the process of being
audited by the Media Rating
Council, which certifies the reliability of media
measurement systems. The
MRC does its work on its
own schedule and might
not be done with its review
before upfront negotiations
commence. But as Goerlich
points out, the industry relied
on C3 as currency for a
couple of years before it was
accredited by the MRC.

C3 was adopted in 2007 as a compromise
measure as the supply of live network ratings
points was being eaten away by DVRs. DVRs
were also encouraging ad skipping, and marketers
wanted a way to make sure they were
paying for viewers who actually watched their
spots and not for people who were zipping or
zapping them with their remote controls.

But advertisers say they want to know more
than C3 is telling them. Rentrak’s Exact Commercial
Ratings provides more information
about specific spots, but this could be a case of
“be careful what you wish for,” because more
data can mean more problems, or at least more
to analyze. For example, if the first spot in a pod
draws a 20% higher audience, should networks
be able to charge 20% more for it? Or if a spot
raises (or lowers) ratings of the ads that follow
it, should it get a better price (or pay a penalty)?

Last month, Goerlich presented data from
Rentrak’s Exact Commercial Ratings system to an
ANA Commercial Ratings Summit. He showed
how the data helps clients improve ad effectiveness
by allowing them to compare the ratings of
their spot to those of the program’s commercial
average, and to see the effect a position within a
commercial pod has on an individual ad.

In one example, Goerlich looked at one spot
for Subway that ran in CBS’ 60 Minutes during
October. The show had a 12.90 rating, while
the commercial registered a 14.60 rating. (Ratings
for the other spots following Subway in
that pod ranged from a 14.05 to a 13.91.)

The system also allows advertisers to look
beyond age and sex demographics to evaluate
how well different networks are reaching
specific target audiences.

At the conference, using Exact Commercial
Ratings was not discussed because of antitrust
concerns. “We just wanted to talk about what
we could do today in terms of our clients’ ability
to do strategy analysis with it,” Goerlich said. “In
fact, a lot of those analyses that I included were
things our clients were looking at today.”

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