Nielsen to Offer Six Streams of Data on Commercials

Jan 16, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Nielsen Media Research will give the networks and ad buyers plenty of data to choose from as they search for the right way to determine how many people are watching commercials.

In May, Nielsen will offer Average Commercial Minute data with six streams allowing for different amounts of delayed viewing on digital video recorders.

In addition to the originally proposed streams of live viewing only, live viewing plus DVR playback on the same day and live viewing and playback within seven days, the electronic data file will include live plus one day DVR viewing, live plus 2 days and live plus 3 days, the company said Tuesday.

Nielsen can produce three streams on a daily basis, but all six on weekly basis, a spokesman said.

It remains to be seen whether the networks and ad buyers will be able to agree on using any of these options as the basis for ad sales next season.

Before Nielsen makes those ratings available, it will be sending data to clients that will allow them to generate commercial minute rating in any format they want, allowing them to research viewing habits and trends.

Marketers have been looking for better ways to measure how many people are watching their commercials. The ratings currently being used measure how many people are watching programs and underestimated the number of people who switch channels or leave the rooms when commercials appear.

The networks want some form of commercial ratings to include delayed viewing of commercials by DVR users. The new ratings system would include only those viewers who do not skip the commercials, adding to the number of eyeballs the networks have to sell advertisers as more and more viewers adopt the devices.

During this season, the networks lost a battle with buyers and commercials were bought based on live data only, a situation network advertising executives believe is costing them millions of dollars.

Most ad buyers still object to including delayed viewing in commercial ratings, which is likely to set up a contentious set of negotiation before ads for next season are bought.

Nielsen said the data from May through August will be labeled as “evaluation” data and will be provided to clients free.

Cable networks have declined to participate in commercial ratings until Nielsen is able to fix some glitches in the system, including an inability to tell the difference between some national and local ads. Nielsen also is not yet able to generate ratings for syndicated shows that correctly account for shows that are double run by stations.

Cable and syndication executives have said they would prefer that Nielsen wait until it can release commercial rating data that is accurate for broadcast, cable and syndication at the same time.

“With the growth of digital television and the increased use of DVRs, Nielsen is developing new measurement tools and metrics that provide more detailed information on what viewers are watching and when,” Sara Erichson, Nielsen General Manager of National Services said in a statement. “The plan announced today is based on extensive consultation with clients to gain insight into what commercial minute ratings information will best meet the needs of the advertising and television industries.”

(Editor: Grego)