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AOL slaps on 'online Nielsen ratings' to lure advertising fat cats

Wants to prove it attracts the 'right sort' of people

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AOL hopes to steal a march on its online competitors in the US over the next few weeks, when it shows off its use of metrics – which are the closest Nielsen can get to comparing the results of online video based ad campaigns with TV campaigns.

AOL has announced the use of this new model, which uses the Nielsen gross rating point (GRP) system to demonstrate that the right number of a particular demographic of audience was reached with an online video. This is a new type of metric and it's hoped by AOL that this will tie up more advertising deals, because it is comparable with how agencies buy advertising for TV delivery.

This approach will be introduced at a brand new event, an Upfront* for online, which will happen between 19 April and 2 May, as the various online services have pre-season meetings with agencies.

The original Upfront is a period of pre-purchase, usually with volume discounts associated with bulk buying, whereby the US broadcast community offloads around $9bn of its ad inventory in an orgy of new programming.

This has been emulated by the cable Upfront, for pay TV companies which accounts for about $6bn of advertising over a single week, around 25 per cent of all such US advertising. Both broadcast and pay TV companies have since pushed their own online inventory at their events, usually held in the second and third weeks of May.

Now AOL has introduced this measure in preparation for what are being referred to as the Digital Content NewFronts, which will include presentations in New York from Hulu, Digital Broadcast Group, Microsoft, AOL, Vevo, Federated Media, Yahoo, Alloy Digital, Disney Interactive, Deca, NBCUniversal, Mitu and Google. Digitas is also there, which is an agency, but which is selling ads across blogs. There are also presentations from industry pundits and camp followers.

Hulu, AOL, Microsoft Advertising, Digitas, Yahoo! and Google/YouTube are all founding members of the Newfronts, designed to land some dollars prior to the major 'upfronts'. AOL claims that this is the first time that online GRPs – based on audience demographics, rather than clicks or impressions – are being used as the basis for advertiser guarantees on the Web.

AOL will leverage Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings reach, frequency and gross rating point (GRP) measurement to determine how well it delivered ads to the desired target audience. AOL says it is the first major publisher to embrace these measurements which were outlined last Au-gust by Nielsen.

"As marketers and advertisers increasingly shift dollars from traditional television advertising to the Web, partnering with Nielsen puts AOL in a unique position to offer a more cost effective mechanism for reaching targeted audiences and a better or equal brand lift, reach and recall," said Ran Harnevo, Senior Vice President, AOL Video.

"AOL has a significant volume of high-quality content valued by advertisers and we are excited to take the lead on showing marketers the value and differentiated results we can guarantee.

"If AOL gets any benefit from this in the NewFronts, the others will soon follow and Nielsen will have another hit product (measurement monopoly) on its hands."

Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings launched in August 2011, providing the first-ever Media Rating Council (MRC) accredited GRP for online advertising campaigns, with metrics similar to those used for TV advertising, enabling cross-media planning and analysis, the company said.

* An 'upfront' is a meeting held by TV bosses – and now online executives – in the break between important advertising sales periods (Christmas, Thanksgiving, SuperBowl Sunday, etc) in order to court big advertisers. It allows the marketing bods to buy space "up front", before the big sales push begins...

Copyright © 2012, Faultline

Faultline is published by Rethink Research, a London-based publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter is an assessment of the impact of the week's events in the world of digital media. Faultline is where media meets technology. Subscription details here.

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