It will be the first test expanding Nielsen's Online Campaign Ratings to mobile, allowing ABC to measure audience demographics and understand the reach and frequency of online campaigns within apps, according to executives. Nielsen's online ratings currently include video viewed on computer and tablet browsers.
The move comes as ABC introduces a Watch ABC app that will allow cable and satellite TV subscribers to stream ABC's live signal to mobile devices, in addition to the sort of on-demand video that has been the mainstay of network TV Everywhere apps until now.
Measurement will be a hot-button topic during upfront negotiations -- when TV networks look to secure commitments for much of their prime-time ad inventory in the upcoming fall season -- especially as advertisers clamor for quality, long-form digital content. While money has been shifting into online content, a lack of recognized universal measurement methods has undermined the movement.
But viewers are certainly watching. Adam Gerber, VP-sales development and marketing for ABC, said consumption of ABC content via its existing app surged 71% from February 2012 through February of this year.
The test will run through the summer, and Mr. Gerber said it will not change ABC's guarantees for this year's upfront.
ABC earlier this year began using Nielsen's Online Campaign Ratings to provide guarantees to advertisers for video programming distributed both on TV and online. The effort, dubbed ABC Unified, was meant to let advertisers make one buy across all screens and better understand the online audience of an ad campaign using metrics comparable to TV. Although ABC Unified already includes apps, campaigns were being measured by applying the online data, so the new test will give advertisers a more accurate picture, Mr. Gerber said.
Cheryl Idell, exec VP-client solutions at Nielsen, said the company will also look to partner with other networks on expanding online campaign ratings to mobile.