Agencies comment on first commercial minute ratings data


As the upfront ad market unfolds, some agencies have admit they plan to buy commercials based on live plus three commercial ratings, but the industry is still trying to standardize on over how much playback should be counted and what the currency(ies) should be valued at. Will the release of Nielsen's first average commercial minute ratings data (see TV News) change or improve the negotiation process for this upfront?

Said Brad Adgate SVP/Research, Horizon Media: "I think the timing couldn't have been worse, because it's one week of data, one week of shows. Typically when you're trying to negotiate advertising time, you want to have a little more data going forward. But it's interesting; it's nice that they have begun to produce it. It's just to do this two weeks after the upfront presentations…it would have been better for this year's upfront if this was available a few months beforehand and continued on afterwards. I think going forward it's going to be very useful, but, again, this is a work in progress."

Said Shari Anne Brill, Carat USA VP/director of programming: "They are not doing ratings for television commercials. They are, at best, providing us a gauge of assessing the potential available audience to an advertising message. Nielsen measures programs, not ads. They take the minutes of a program that contains national ad time and call them a commercial minute. Anything that has one second or more of national ad time is flagged as a commercial minute and they produce a weighted average of those minutes. [Nonetheless], I think there is industry discussion of possibly moving toward using this data as a metric. And Nielsen alluded to that in their note, but I'm not sure they're in a position to talk about currency…And we are going around with presentations to all of our clients to tell them what this data is and what it isn't, but we're also telling them it's a step in the right direction.

Basically, the broadcast networks, which are most heavily impacted, really wanted to move in this direction because they're losing a lot of audience in time shifting. When you have this kind of decline, it takes GRPs out of the marketplace.

The other piece of this that I find disturbing is they don't mention they still can't do this for VCR time shifted viewing. It's bad enough that it's in the live program rating but they're equating VCR recording as staying tuned to commercials. That's insane.

This really is just repackaging what we've already had via NPOWER since Jan. '06. I've been able to get all delayed forms of viewing for since Jan. '07. I just wonder about the smaller agencies who can't afford this special analytical tool in NPOWER that we've been using to do this. They didn't have the advantage of looking at this data. They're going to be put in the position of having to follow what the bigger shops decide to do."

Said Bill McOwen, MPG EVP, Director of Media Investments: "It would appear that the official numbers are in line with some of the figures we've been tracking  for the past few months. So, no surprises here. In a nutshell: Though still incomplete, clients will have a better understanding of the true value of their television investments. This new level of transparency pushes all involved into the necessary era of mutually accountability."