Nielsen‘s widely used and highly influential ratings system has been much maligned in the past for its singular reliance on TV views as a measure of a program’s success. In the last couple of years, the consulting giant has taken strides to incorporate all sorts of viewing media into its sample. The most recent effort in this regard is the company’s introduction of the Nielsen Cross-Platform Campaign Ratings, which will factor in online activity when considering the reach of any advertising campaign.

Nielsen’s newest figure states that half of Americans now watch video on the Internet (seems a little low to me, but hey, there are a lot of babies and old fogeys out there), and they claim the average American increases his or her TV viewing from 34+ to 35 hours a week due to Internet viewing. The new system should help get a better idea of what that extra hour is used for. The new ratings as a culmination of many of Nielsen’s recent efforts, including their Cross-Platform Home methodology, which initially allowed them to begin monitoring Internet behavior as it relates to TV watching habits.

Several companies partnered up with Nielsen to help test their new system, including ESPN, Facebook, Hulu, GroupM, and Unilever. The tests revealed that Nielsen’s Cross-Platform Ratings could accurately measure “comparable metrics across TV and digital, measuring unique audience on each, along with overlapping audience and total combined unique audience.” Nielsen hopes that this will cause any straggler networks who have yet to put their shows on the Internet to change their policies, given that they will now have a way to measure the reach of advertising on shows that are viewed online.

Just as many networks allow Nielsen ratings to dictate which shows stay on the air, several channels are already primed to adopt the Cross-Platform Ratings. The CW was the first network to sign on with Nielsen’s new system, and they plan to use the results to give advertisers a more accurate picture of how well their money is being spent. Soon enough, expect all of the companies that are reliant of Nielsen’s ratings to adopt the new system, allowing them to better understand the profound influence of online video views.

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